So we just moved back in April to our new (and forever) home. Things are going very well, thanks for asking. Anyway, I’m finally getting around to unpacking some odds and ends. And odd ends. And the ends of oddness. Speaking of the latter, I came across this mess.
Yup, that’s a pile of old journals.
As anyone who knows knows, it’s been a tumultuous but ultimately fucking outstanding last few years. Not for the world—god, no. There’s a racist would-be dictator reality show clown rapist Russian asset in the White House, so that ain’t good. But for me—yeah, not bad. You can read about it if you’re all excited for that sort of thing, but the upshot is, I have found myself blinking in the unaccustomed daylight, so to speak.
Anyway, what do I do with all this… stuff? “Stuff” in this case referring to decades-worth of scribbled pain, and longing, and daily minutiae, and purple prose thereabout. Not saying that poor guy wasn’t doing his best, or that all that hunched, sweaty effort didn’t contribute to the growth and the learning and the whatever and whatnot. Not to mention the fact that I am currently—and just—making a living as a professional writer. So thanks, big fella.
Still, one of the components of the different-than-the-last-40-years state of mind I now mostly happily find myself in is a willingness to let the past go. Or, to be more accurate to that previous 40-plus years, I am no longer crippled by the obsession to review, sift, and rehash every interaction, every moment, every goddamned perceived failure, humiliation, or disappointment in order to reaffirm the bedrock belief that I am utterly and incontrovertibly worthless.
Yeah, it’s been a real pip.
So, on this rainy Sunday, with time on my hands and mischief in my heart, I’ve come up with four options for what to do with these musty, dusty repositories of undoubtedly embarrassing soul-baring and unrealized writing projects.
A. Read them with a new eye, culling the best bits for possible future use and the worst bits, possibly to tweet out in a series hashtagged #dontkeepdiaries. Safe in the knowledge that our past is part of us, perspective is finally possible, and even the worst thing you ever wrote has no power to destroy you.
B. Burn them in the outdoor clay bread oven that came with the house without reading a single word. Burn and move on.
C. Stick them in that Rubbermaid tub and shove them in the garage (we have a garage), knowing that this means the temptation to read them will still exist, and that—should I die before consigning them to the flames or seeing them turned into chipmunk bedding (we have chipmunks)—someone will inevitably read them. Shudder.
D. Gradually burn them for warmth in the coming winter, using their twisted and crumpled pages as firelighters in the tiny woodstove in our kitchen, perhaps taking a glance through an odd page or two before making use of them. Yes, we have a woodstove.
I know burning is in there twice.
Totally serious. Vote.