Friday, November 30, 2007

Journal of the Wills

The actual preface to the original Star Wars novellization was "Journal of the Whills." I felt changing the title to "Wills" would serve as an appropriate title for this entry while paying homage to my favorite film saga while remaining relevant to the topic at hand.

I want to talk about journals. Diaries. The stuff you write down and why. That's what writing stuff down for yourself was called before the internet and birth of the blog. Journals.

The first journal I ever read was by my Great-Grandfather, Urban Farabaugh. He fought in World War 1 (read previous blogs in 2006 to learn more about this) and throughout his entire enlistment in the Army, from 1918 through 1919, he wrote about what he saw and witnessed, peppered with random observations and opinions on everything ranging from the backwardness of French technology at the time to songs sung in the trenches by the men. It is the only connection I have to the man.

When I went to Russia in 1995, an friend at the time gave me an empty, small, hardbound book and told me to document, or write down, something in it every day of the trip. I tried, and I think for the most part I was successful. I would say sixty percent of what happened during the trip wound up in the book. Along with hundreds of photos I have probably only seen once in my life. None of which is digital.

I'm somewhat of a pack rat. I save everything, not knowing what will have historical value someday or what I might need to remember or refer to when writing the long gestating book in my mind. So you can imagine the clutter that has accumulated over the course of the last decade. Thousands of video tapes. Hundreds of books. Thousands of e-mails (many printed off). Hundreds of written letters from friends and family (remember those days?). It all takes up room somewhere in our home.

But little of the clutter could be considered a journal. I've written many newspaper articles, Kanestergram mass e-mails, broadcast news stories, and letters. But the only true journal I've got is that small book I wrote in Russia. And I didn't even include everything and I wonder if I let myself down because of it.

I have a friend, Dan Day, who I always felt was a good, albeit humorous writer. He was dedicated to writing entries into his journal during our time together in the military in the late 1990s. I am somewhat envious of him because, he, unlike the rest of our group, has a somewhat detailed and historical account of the daily activities during that time. They are memories that only surface when he e-mails or calls and reminds me of one of those events after he's read it again in his journal. I'll probably only ever hear about two percent of what he has written in that journal, but I know that he has probably the most honest and fair, perhaps sarcastic, but totally detailed account of many of our exploits at that time.

I wish I had Dan's dedication and did the same for myself.

I read about journals in a recent Newsweek article:

The writer had kept a journal about his son for the first 18 years of his life. That is dedication.

I read this article in the waiting room at the baby doctors office before a regularly scheduled appointment with my wife. It was the same day we would see an ultrasound of our baby boy, the first in months.

I started to wonder about that journal. Should I do the same? Can I be dedicated enough to stay with it for 18 years? Would he even want a journal of his life? If my Dad had done the same, would I have been appreciative and would I have wanted that myself?

And then I started to think about this site. Is this a Journal? Will my son, or great-grandson someday do a Google search on my name to learn more about me, and will that be the manifestation of the modern or future Journal?

I guess I'm going to give this journal-for-the-kid thing a shot. Check back in six months and I'll tell you how it's going.

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