I’m not a diarist. I never have been, really. My attempts at journaling and such would be laughable, were it acceptable to laugh at such awkwardness. The closest I came to managing it was on a university trip to Russia in 1997. But even then, I was often days behind, and wrote my entries as though I were writing them that day, which just seems… so weird and beside the point. My friend Jim would actually journal as we walked around, and tried to do the journalist’s thing of counting his photographs and making notes of what he was photographing. Eminently sensible, but a trick I could never pull off.
Mostly I was too busy immersing myself in the moment, and that’s been my downfall in a lot of ways. Life has always been too interesting for me to pause from it and take a moment write it down and collect my thoughts.
And such was always the problem I had with blogging. The other time I really was hitting a stride in terms of journaling was back in 2004, when I was deployed to Iraq as a Marine. Though then, it wasn’t so much a diary as a broadcast letter home, one that saved me from writing a bunch of individual ones, which I didn’t have a lot of time for. Though, of course, that was also a rather dishonest account as I often concealed the threat we were under to keep people at home from worrying. The few moments of unalloyed honesty (frustration with my superiors, for instance, or a reference to someone in my unit being arrested) were filtered and hidden to keep me from winding up in front of my CO answering uncomfortable questions.
Otherwise, and perhaps especially because of Iraq, I’ve always felt the need to justify my blogging/diarying. As in, most of my posts (published and otherwise) would start with some kind of rationale for the writing of them. And the irony was that after Iraq, my life seemed altogether too pedestrian to chronicle with any kind of regularity. All that left me was commenting on current affairs and throwing my two cents in on the topics currently up for discussion among the people that I followed regularly in social media.
The thing that I missed, of course, is that writing itself is reason to write; and these days, I’m starting to feel like I’m emerging from some kind of hibernation. I’ve held back, considered, thought, observed–things I’ve gotten decently good at, I think–but now I feel like I’m ready to start writing and communicating again.