"Keep a diary. It might keep you."

So we learn here that we should keep a diary.  It will keep us.  Cryptic advice.  It will keep us sane, whole, wits intact, what?  But forgetting about the latter, it is indeed good advice. Over the years I’ve accumulated so many fancy journals, leather bound, artsy covers, cloth bound, you name it, we’ve owned it.  Inaugurating them and filling up the first page was always a very satisfying experience.  It was an experience matched in satisfaction only with finding an old diary whose pages were filled by someone else.  Oh yes, few things come close to the pleasure of snooping and wondering, while snooping, if the author intended secrecy or was hoping that their journals would be discovered and that through their journals they would in turn be discovered, remembered, understood and immortalized.

I’ve stopped buying those journals now.  These are different times and our lives are ostensibly public (ostensibly because we only share cherry-picked moments and I doubt any of our virtual friends have the desire or the inclination to wonder about that which is not being said online).  We share the highlights of our days with others hoping to either stress the ways in which we are different or to find consonance.

So if we must keep a diary, so that it “keeps” us, we can keep it in a blog and drop the coy bit about storing our innermost thoughts in the pages of some journal that would then be stashed away in some drawer somewhere, begging to be found by friends, relatives, future generations, etc.  A song comes to mind:

Tu aa ke mujhe pehchaan zara (Come find me)

We digress.  But then again, we are so very prone to musical digressions.  Every thought snags on a song.

The first advice I ever got about diaries was that at its most basic level it needed to be an accounting of the day.  There are large chunks of my day that are repetitive.  It’s surprising when I fire up MS Excel each morning and type in “=NOW( )” and it spits out a new date and time! I guess the date does change, if nothing else.  Sometimes Interstate 80 isn’t a parking lot, this wasn’t such a day.  I wake up, I drive some thirty miles, I immerse myself in various analyses and I drive back the same distance.  Those are the large repetitive chunks.

The things that do change however, and are really worth writing about, are the notes that bounce off the ostinato, so to speak.  These thoughts are often unrelated and they stay unresolved like scattered fragments that could be collected and molded into something of consequence if they weren’t so fleeting, and as tantalizingly out of reach as those earth-like exoplanets we discover each day.

Today this song filled the sound theater of my car on my way to work:

And I wondered about the lyrics that suggest that our voices would stand the test of time while our names are obliterated or lost in its annals and our faces change beyond recognition.  I wondered if this was true.  I tried to think of all the loved ones I had lost, of all the friends who were friends once but are strangers now.  If it wasn’t for the aid of a recording device, a constant replaying, would I remember the specific timbres of their voices, the cadences of their speech, their intonation, the sound of their laughter? I have my doubts.  I think I would do better with faces and would never forget a name.

Then I heard this song:

In this lyrically and melodiously supreme song there’s a thought that the moon would reflect our pasts (yeh chand beete zamanon ka aina hoga) and the floating clouds would form the likeness of a face (bhatakti abra mein chehra koi bana hoga) and this thought transported me to places I have never been and moments I’ve never felt.

So I moved on to my own lame recollections of the things that stay on after we’ve lived our short lives, the things the moon or the giant sequoias have lived through.  I recollected something a friend wrote about the art of stretching and I thought of the static sequoias in their little corner of California countering my thoughts about their isolated and oblivious, though intact, state through most of recent history as they tell me they weren’t “oblivious”, that they heard it all through the whispering wind and the percussive branches.

Then my thoughts veered off to the idea of artistry and brushstrokes and the place where grace notes and tiny brushstrokes converge, where a little goes a long way and differences can be felt in infinitesimal degrees.

All this was yet another scattered reverie that helped me discern 12/19/11 from 12/20/11 and is now stored in this very public diary.

I get closer to ending the clattering of these keys with a final thought about the fungibility of our media.  Will the history of this era be the most accurate it has ever been, untainted by biased rewriting, because of videographic or endlessly documented virtual evidence or will the lack of backward compatibility in technology leave future generations guessing about the purpose of the iPhone carcasses they find littered at future archeological digs?

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