Among traditional and occult and New Agey folks there was always this thing called “The Books of the Akashic”. There is an ancient belief that there are multiple worlds tiered above and below each other. Somewhere immediately past this physical world there is supposed to be a spiritual realm where everything you’ve ever done is somehow recorded. Psychics like Edgar Cayce claimed to go to this place and read the Book of Life, also called the Book of the Akashic. If you’ve ever seen the Robin Williams movie “What Dreams May Come”, there is a scene where his spirit guide brings him to a gigantic library of thick books to find the story of his life. I suppose now they would be a series of tweets. As a book lover, I always wanted to go to that library and find out what the deal was with me.
But the library is here, right behind me, piled on the floor.
I’m sitting upstairs in front of my old PC, a ten year old dinosaur I use mostly for archiving. I’m waiting for it to load and maybe I’ll run another virus scan on it.
Boredom and horniness somehow always go together. When I sit here idly, the mind wanders to a default position that often centers on sexual fantasy. I turn around in my chair to see what’s handy on the bookshelf and on the bottom shelf, spilled out onto the floor is an untidy stack of my old diaries.
I pick up the one on top, which turns out to be July of 2005. We were getting ready to move from Texas to Georgia. I start thumbing through it. An entry catches my eye in which I’m angsting about my cat Ronnie whom the airlines won’t take, my beloved old Audi which the movers won’t take and I’m expressing my loyalty to make sure they both arrive somehow. In a sentence there is a long thought about the meaning of loyalty.
I’m thinking, I used to have more teeth in my head back then. It wasn’t so long ago, what happened?
When you read an old diary, what stands out most is the sheer transience of things. The people are gone and dead or moved on, or most of them have simply vanished downstream, these people you saw everyday and cared about. What was their fate, what became of them? These things that you were so monumentally worried about, which occupied your world in the moment, now you had forgotten they ever worried you.
Diaries are the only karmic record you’ll ever have. There may be a library up in the sky somewhere but by the time you get to it, it won’t matter all that much. It’ll just be an interesting story that doesn’t have any great consequence except what you attach to it. The diaries in this world that actually do record your story and your karma, more than any other thing, tell you what you’ve lost.
What a great take on the topic!ReplyDelete
I kept journals for many years, but more or less stopped after I started living with my husband. I guess we were too busy living for me to write.
I haven't gone back to read them in a while, but last time I did, I felt very much as though they had been written by someone else.
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
I never kept a diary or journal, though I recognize their value, if only to see how our thinking has evolved. When I think of some the things I said and believed in times past, I often think how naive I was. Then with other, more basic things, nothing has changed.ReplyDelete
Ahhh... the Human condition.
The evolving or revolving human condition.Delete
I opened one of my journals at random and found this:ReplyDelete
"Sex and God are my two favorite topics here -- the two foci of my life."
Hmm. Maybe I haven't changed so much after all.
Wow. Why were you not in my life in 1979? We'd have had a lot to talk about.Delete
Raised by atheists, I'd given up on organized religions by 1979. God to me, is very personal. It's the life-force that animates all living things, so God is in every living thing. So all life is worthy of worship. Guess that's why I'm such an environmentalist as well. I have a tee shirt that says, "Give me that old time religion," and it shows Stonehenge. Yes, Druid. That's me.Delete
Your image of God is actually close to mine.Delete
I kept a diary when I was in high school, but my mom found it and it almost got me thrown out of the house! Remember the scene in Romeo and Juliet, when her daddy is screaming at her, calling her "baggage," and telling her he doesn't care if she has to whore on the streets, if she won't do what he wants her to do? I lived that scene. And Mom, who had been my closest confidante, was the one who precipitated it by reading my diary and telling him what was in it. Sigh...so I burned it, along with my childish musings about sex and life in general.ReplyDelete
I've never kept a diary since then. But my memory is still sharp, and I can remember the "me" who lived various phases in my life. I used to say that youth wasn't wasted on me, since I had such a great time with all of the youths I could get my hands on! And I still look forward to being the old lady rocking in her chair on the porch of an assisted living place. Instead of crying about my lost youth, I'll be the one laughing, and entertaining everyone with stories about what I actually did when I was young.
To me, that's the most horrendous part about dementia, like the vascular one that stole my mom away from me, over the course of years. She had little strokes that increased in frequency as she got older, and little by little, she forgot everything about herself. To try to stave that off, I continue to be a non-smoker, I exercise regularly, and I try to eat right. I do crosswords constantly, to the point where I have a book in my truck, for when I'm stopped at a train, or going into an appointment when I'll have to wait. I have them next to every chair I sit on in my house. And I carry one to the schools I sub in, so once the kids are working, I can continue to stimulate my brain. I don't know if any of this will help, but I sure hope so! I've got so many fun memories (and a few bad ones, of course) that I don't want to lose.
There is an episode in the Doctor Who series, called The Five Doctors. In that one, someone is "stealing" the Doctor's past incarnations of him, and he's suffering. To explain it to his companions, he notes, "A man is the sum total of his experiences. I am being diminished as they are all stolen from me."
BTW, I've noticed I usually leave such long comments, and you all don't. Sorry! If you want me to be more terse, just let me know!ReplyDelete
Fiona! I love your long comments and I've been waiting for you to appear so that I can apologise to you and recognize you. I was archiving done of my old posts and discovered after the fact that you had responded to do many of them and i never knew. I should have seen your responses and didn't, I'm sorry. Thank you for reading my stuff. Both when I'm writing well and when I'm just phoning it in. Thank you Fiona.Delete
Your parents did you wrong, not only because they shouldn't read your diary but because it damaged trust. You were expressing in an honest way and that's what writers should strive for. They should have seen that.
I have a portable library of books in a box in my van. And I have learned to love eBooks. I love having four libraries of books available in my pocket for every doctors waiting room and grocery line i have to stand in. What a miracle to have most of Mankinds accumulated wisdom and madness right there with me wherever I go.
(Blushes) You're welcome, Garce. The first post of yours I read was about the alternate selves after-life...Tulkas? I found it a fascinating idea, and I've read everything you've written ever since...commenting on most of them.Delete
My dad was raised in the old country (Scotland) and I think there was a family scandal involving his sister. Plus one of his grandmothers had been dragged to Australia, along with their multiple kids, then her husband who dragged her there, promptly died, leaving her with no way to make a living other than "the oldest profession." So Dad had a really skewed view of sex. He once told my brother and me that he wished we were switched, because he could have been proud of my dalliances if I was his son, and he'd have been proud of me if I abstained for damn near 20 years, like my brother did. We looked at each other with raised eyebrows, and said, "Uh, thanks, Dad...I think."
My parents had no idea I was a writer. That's not anything you can make a living at, after all. Dad's death precipitated my looking for happy endings, so that's when I began writing my first book. And Mom had dementia rendering her unable to read by the time my first book was published.
Dad was pissed that I got an English degree, instead of the Math or Engineering that he wanted me to get. He figured he wasted all of that money. And when I asked him why as a carpenter, he was worth over $25 per hour (in 1979), and as a teacher (who needed a college degree)I was only worth about $5 or less, when you figure in planning and grading time, he said it was because carpenters were usually men, and a man's work was more important, inherently. Besides, men had families to support. In his defense, when women started becoming carpenters, he would train them, not hinder, ignore or abuse them, as other men did. He said if they were willing to work as hard as he did, they deserved the same money. But he never did see teaching of any kind, particularly English, as being worth much. "Ach, lassie, I'm fond of having meh waitress quote Shakespeare as she slings muh hash." Sigh...
I've never kept a diary, but in my early-morning not-quite-awake moments I've been telling myself that I should record old family stories for my granddaughter (and son, for that matter, who has heard them but probably doesn't remember.) Tidbits ranging from "Your great-great-grandfather was an engineer helping to construct that huge reservoir you pass by all the time" to "Your great-grandfather" (my father, still around) was in the Army during WWII, and once he wrote to my mother that he'd lost (at poker) all they'd saved toward buying a car, and he'd never play poker again. But by the time the letter reached her, he'd won it all back. Plenty of other stories, too, but, um, I'm afraid I may have forgotten many of them myself. He's forgotten some of them, too, but he's been telling me lately that he remembers when my mother followed him by train to new Army posts, carrying me the whole way along with a set of bicycle saddlebags containing diapers, an old army blanket folded so she should spread the dirty side on train station floors and set me down on the clean one, and graham crackers for me that she sometimes shared with soldiers sharing train seats with her. I want my granddaughter to remember things about them beyond just being very old people present at family get-togethers.ReplyDelete
What fabulous stories, Sacchi! They're well worth preserving, especially the one about the poker game.Delete
And you should write them down before they're lost. Or do talk in front of a video camera you can keep. Don't wait. It's your story.Delete
I understand the rationale for wanting to preserve the stories that make up your life. But I'm not so sure any of your progeny will care. My own kids probably remember most of my stories, because I've always been a "blethering skite,"--some kind of bird in Scotland that apparently never shuts up.Delete
But my one aunt was in assisted living for a while, and I used to visit her, asking her questions about her life way back when, since she was the oldest of the 10 kids in Mom's family, and Mom was 8th. My aunt told me that her own daughter would stop her whenever she started to reminisce and tell her, "Shut up, Ma. Nobody cares about all that old stuff now." I did care, and I got a few good stories out of her, along with teasing her about all of the good sex she could have with the old guys in the place. I told her they were all so skinny, she could fit 2 or 3 of them in there with her at one time, increasing the possibilities for fun. She told me she couldn't possibly do that, since her late husband's picture hung over her bed, and he'd be watching. I told her she could hang a towel over it, and he'd never know. She'd giggle like a schoolgirl. Good times.
I've kept diaries off and on for my whole life but I pretty much never read back over them. It's led me to question what they're actually for. In many ways, they're pretty boring. It leads me to think it's sort of like a stretch for the brain for me... The times they're not boring to read I often don't enjoy them. For example, I came across a diary written while with an ex and I couldn't stand reading about my earnest efforts to get along with him, the way I blamed myself, etc. Insights, I guess, but there's a way I'd rather write that and then leave it behind.ReplyDelete