It’s been more than ten years since I kept a personal journal. To be perfectly honest, I thought I was done with that format. Yet here we are again.
Why again? Why now? Damned if I know. But more precisely, I don’t think it is one thing but rather a multiplicity of influences that draws in my Muse and guides my hand.
Among these are the end of the Covid pandemic. After fifteen months in self-imposed exile, venturing not into any store or building other than our own home, disinfecting every surface of every food item delivered to our door by the supermarket, and even quarantining our mail and packages for three days in the workshop out back until the three-day life of Covid has been exceeded – after all that – life is opening up once again.
Like mammals cautiously venturing forth after hunkering in their subterranean nests while the dinosaurs died, the three of us here – Mary, Teresa, and myself – are finally returning to the edges, the outskirts, of what were once our normal lives.
But perhaps the greatest driving force that has led me to return to this format was the death of my step-father from Covid just a year ago.
He raised me from age seven when he married my mother who had divorced shortly after I was born. He was a wonderful father and, though at times we lived far apart and seldom spoke save on holidays, I always felt close to him, and him to me.
And, generously, life allowed us an extra span of communion during his final four years when I moved back down to my childhood home and could visit him nearly every week at his nursing care facility.
I would share the latest about family and friends, reminisce with him about our early days together as a family before my mom passed on nearly a third of a century ago, and I would bring him his favorite foods, videos to enjoy, music in which to become lost, and listen with eager attention as he spoke of his own childhood and his adventures in the years before I knew him.
His loss made me reassess my own scant time remaining to walk the planet. And as I turned my attention to dozens of boxes of family mementos stretching back to the late 1800s, which I have preserved as their conservator for decades and now feel compelled to sort and organize before passing on to my children, as I lift every lid and embrace the memories and moments each contains, I find myself struggling with permanence – not as one might attempt to fashion a legacy (though I went through that phase) but more philosophically as I try to understand where the meaning truly resides: in the acts of kindness or anger we ripple out into the world, in the insights and experiences we capture and send to anonymous others as messages in bottles, or is the pure organic essence of bling alive and becoming one with the immediacy of present experience the spark that ignites the blaze of self awareness that illuminates the universe so others might find their own way?
And yet, it might be far more simple, that which compels me to once again keep a journal. It may be no more than my inherent need to express myself, even if no one is listening, even if there in no one else in the room.
I am sure I will revisit all of these issues time and time again as I continue in this new incarnation of an old habit. But for now, as a means of wrapping these thoughts in a more complete context, I offer the following video from my YouTube channel, recorded live not yet a month previous: