As I sit here on my friend Tim’s spare bed (which just a few short moments ago had the entirety of Helm’s Deep atop it) typing this entry using a piece of software that runs on a computer several thousand miles away from the tiny computer that I’m actually pressing the keys on which has no physical connection to this thing we call “the Internet”, I’m reminded, as I often am, of how much things have changed.
I’m not that old — I’m thirty and, if not proud then certainly “grudgingly accepting” — but I still find the amount of progress since I was a kid to be fairly astonishing when you think about it. Take what I’m doing right now — writing a blog post — and rewind it some fifteen-plus years. I vividly recall as a youngling, early-ish in my secondary school career, writing a secret diary, inspired by Adrian Mole. Said diary was in a really nice part leather-bound volume that said “journal” on the spine and had nice paper. My first entry was about my family’s visit to the National Stone Centre, in retrospect possibly the dullest way I could have possibly started a secret diary.
Over time, though, my writing evolved. I wasn’t writing for anyone in particular, but more just to get thoughts out of my head when there wasn’t anyone handy to share and discuss them with — or if they were thoughts that I didn’t particularly want to share and discuss with people. In some senses it was like a form of therapy, where I could discuss anything I wanted with someone who wouldn’t judge what I was saying, and would simply respond with an unspoken “tell me more” for as long as it had empty pages. My journal became less about “Today I went to the National Stone Centre and we saw lots of stones” and more about “I’ve been thinking about [girls/school/bullies/life] and this is what I feel about it”.
I took to scripting fantasy conversations for a while, particularly when it came to talking to girls, because at least in the pages of my diary I stood a chance with Nikki, the girl with the finest boobs and legs in the whole school orchestra. In reality — well, I never quite found out whether or not I stood a chance with her, but given the general standard of guys she went out with, I’m not sure my greasy-and-crap-haired zit-faced teenage self would have stood up particularly well, however much better at playing the clarinet I was than her other boyfriends.
On one memorable occasion, I recall doing a lengthy post-mortem of an encounter with a girl I liked when my friends pretty much forced me to tell her that I liked her. She turned me down, of course, but the fact I’d actually gone through with it was immensely satisfying — so much so that I recall drawing diagrams of how the event had actually gone — where I was, where my friends were (doubtless watching and laughing at me making a tit of myself) and where she was.
In retrospect, it was perhaps a bit creepy, which is probably why one day I took a look at everything I had written, became hideously embarrassed by the whole thing and discreetly threw the by then half-full book out into the trash, never to be seen again. I often wonder what happened to it, and occasionally wondered if a bin man might have come across it and had a good giggle at my teenage lameness.
The world’s different now, though, and the closest people come to a “secret” these days is posting passive-aggressive tweets and Facebook statuses. I still write — every day, as you’ve doubtless noticed. Sometimes the things I write are still therapeutic and a way of getting thoughts out of my head that are difficult to vocalise, and sometimes it’s just stupid shit that I feel like rambling on about.
The difference now is that after 535 days, I’m not ashamed of a bit of it. Sure, some of it probably only has any meaning to me and me alone, but everything I’ve written here has some sort of meaning and memory attached to it. Which is why you won’t find me ever throwing this blog out in the trash like my teenage secret diary. We are the sum of our memories and experiences, for better or worse, and sometimes it’s good to look back and see how you got to where you are now — and where you might be headed in the future.
The future’s not yet written, as everyone knows. But day by day it’ll reveal itself, leading us ever onward to the end of one chapter and the start of the next.