on journaling

My friend Steve Donoghue has been keeping a diary his whole life and so he when he talks about the craft of it he’s not just talking as a practiced diarist but as a reader of his own diaries; in other words, he knows what it’s like to read an entry from 30 years ago and wish that certain details had been mentioned.

            Here’s his advice for what your older self will want to read about.

  • What did you do today? (obviously)
  • Give a quick word about notably attractive outfits
  • Talk about hot topics in the news of that day.
  • Mention what you bought today and what you paid for it (this one caught my mind the most and I’ve adapted it wholeheartedly).

I was thinking of those journaling tips at the coffee shop today because when I looked up from my notebook I saw a woman in probably her 30s, she was dressed professionally with a nice tapered cardigan that went down to about her thigh, and she was holding her phone in front of her face and turning her cheek to it, then the other cheek, pinching at her black floral facemask to tweak it this way and that…

            She was modeling for a selfie.

            Many selfies.

            And up until maybe a couple years ago I used to see people doing this in public and think it was just the most awful kinda vanity but now I don’t think that because

  1. It hurts absolutely nobody, and
  2. Same as with old diary entries, your future self is gonna wanna see what you looked like up-close. (S)he’ll wanna remember what it was like to look in the mirror at that age.

            Years ago, on tumblr, I remember someone mentioning that she was going to get serious about taking an Outfit of the Day (OOTD) selfie each day for a year because she wishes that her grandmother had been able to do it so that, on any particular calendar date, she could do her best to match her grandmother’s outfit, and her youthful pose, and then compare the two. (Now she’s saying that, with her year of OOTD selfies, her own supposed offspring will be able to do that.)

            And incidentally I happen to look strikingly similar to my dad when he was my age and we both get a kick outta comparing our photos—so I know for a fact that, while that young woman’s project might sound like a thinly-veiled vanity trip, it really is a heart-swelling delight for the people involve. Some primitive gushy-smiled delight in saying, “I came from that,” or, “That came from me.”

            Anyway. How are you?

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