Do you keep a diary? Is your diary a attempt to connect with the vast scope of human existence or is it merely a record of daily events? The word itself comes from the Latin diarium which contains the word dies or “day”. While the days of physical diary keeping seem like a distant memory, I would argue that they haven’t vanished at all – they’ve simply changed medium and even more interestingly, they’ve gotten better. Allow me to expound.
I remember finding my sister’s diary and breaking the lock with a pair of pliers to read the contents hidden therein. She confessed her love for any number of boys, complained about how irritating I was, and wrote about things that went on in her daily life, all with her personal stamp written on each entry. Ironically, I never kept a diary because I never saw the point. My sister was always deeper than I was at that age. This version of a diary is akin to a confessional, where the writer tells the diary their stray thoughts and darkest secrets in the context of daily life. Why do we love reading these seemingly clandestine things? Because we are addicted to stories and it’s part of being a human.
Think about it – what fascinates us as a species at our core? I would say the progenitor of all emotion is curiosity. We want to understand what we don’t know in order to figure out how we fit into the narrative. When are born we have no memory of physically coming into the world. Our consciousness, on the other hand, seems to form in medias res; we don’t remember being born, but rather, in my case, I remember standing with my mom and looking at the hole in the concrete at the bottom of the basement staircase. That’s where my story began and everything after is framed from that first page.
We’ve been telling our stories since before we could write. It’s part of who we are, seeing as we have a beginning and an end. We enjoy hearing the stories of others, true or false, and will even pay money to read, listen to or watch them. A diary has been the best way to keep a record of who we are and why we matter. It’s an existential search for a deeper meaning and a connection. Last week, I wrote about Beethoven. It comes as no surprise that the vast majority of our knowledge of his life struggles came directly from his superb diary keeping. So where did the diary go? It didn’t go anywhere but rather, it evolved into a new creature. In a seismic shift, the diary has gone from private to public as the result of the amazing invention of the Internet.
What is social media but a modern public diary? People sharing pictures of food they’ve eaten, houses they’ve moved into, people they’ve fallen in love with, and hobbies that ignite their passions. There’s an entire school of folk in the world today that believe that social media is destroying the world. Maybe they’re right…but I happen to think it’s amazing ONLY because I know myself and can control my emotions when I’m ingesting it. Where I believe we get into trouble is when we lie in our public diaries. When we stand in front of cars we don’t own with people that aren’t our friends, wearing clothes we couldn’t afford, we lie and it doesn’t help anyone. In the end, no one gives a damn about those pictures or videos. We’d rather see the daddy having tea with his daughter, or a family pet doing something crazy, or a grandma playing Cards Against Humanity. That’s who we really are and that’s what our diaries should contain.
Part of my goal for the GGP is to capture my journey in celebrating uniqueness while bringing us together. What is this pursuit other than a diary of my life? The videos of all the people I’ve spoken with have changed my life and made me a believer in keeping a diary once again in a new way. The articles I write reflect my daily moods which range from the deep (like today) to the absurd (like every day…just ask my wife!) YOU ALONE are the director of how you want to portray your life’s story.
Just stop for a minute and be blown away by how amazing it is that we live in a time where this is possible.
The only admonition I will give you is this – Don’t make your life fictional. Tell the truth. Own it. Don’t try so hard to be someone that you are not. We crave the truth and it ALWAYS wins in the end. Give us that, and life will give back infinitely more.
Keep following my diary on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If you want to help the GGP or would like to share some of your own diary, please drop a comment or email me at email@example.com.