I like the log-on windows that say “Remember me.” The idea that a website could memorialize our existence and archive our imprint on the world is pervasive on the Internet, but rarely that explicit.
I gave up expecting to be remembered on the Internet a while back, but I keep a daily journal (writing in fountain pen, an entry a day) and when I fill a book I go back, note the things I want to keep, and transcribe them into a Word document, one for each year. I’ve been doing it daily since the early 90s some time, and before that sporadically.
What is this impulse to write every day? There are many reasons, all tangled up. First, of course, to settle my mind and to clarify things. Yes, I did all these things in some kind of order, and this is what happened after that. It becomes a parade instead of a jumble. Second, and slightly different, to recognize that things happened. To pause and remark on my events, expeditions, and appreciations. To think about their significance (and insignificance) and process what happened, as they tell me dreaming does.
Another reason to diary is to make note of what might later be benchmarks or important events for later consideration. I want to be able to look back and say, oh, that’s when things changed. Those were the first signs. And, of course, to remember what I have forgotten, whether they are important events, repetitive thoughts, or tiny discoveries.
Though most of the things I write down turn out to be dull quotidian tasks unworthy of memorialization, often I find small gems. My last journal has a lot of mulling and processing in it, but it also has an odd pandemic Christmas and a family Zoom sing-along. I’m re-reading it now, having marked passages for transcription.
A year ago I began writing about the birth of my grandchild. I have transcribed that and can go back and think about how much has changed since then. There was a baby. He had tubes going into everything. He could barely breathe. What an astonishing thing to read when a couple of days ago the same gentleman was dragging me out into the back yard so he could squat and drop things into a watering can and watch them sink.
I think, process, recollect, pour out, select, and memorialize my past, and then move on. I get to write with my fountain pen and ink, watching the lines glitter and instantaneously dry on the page while downstairs the robot vacuum hums and chatters, erasing the signs of the past week, including the grandchild’s cookie crumbs, as if they never existed.