The Journal

What a beautiful site, to revisit a latent blog. Brief snapshots in time, forever preserved for anyone to wander upon. Some may see a decrepit relic of times long past, or a sacrifice to the temporal mysteries of the world wide web.

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(Side note: when’s the last time anybody said “World Wide Web”?)

But I see an old friend. We’ve shared so many experiences, relayed so many stories. It’s the kind of friend you see and can pick up right where you left off.

Over Thanksgiving, my father asked me to write an entry in his journal.

I bought him this leatherbound Moleskin for Christmas last year. He filled every page, one entry for each day. By mid-summer he was ready for Volume II, which I gladly supplied.

Dad's journal

For years he had been steadily declining into the depths of nostalgia. Thanks to some rusty memories of Developmental Psychology 101, I recall it’s a common symptom of middle age; they call it “life review”, where you begin to recount memories throughout your life.

(Not to be confused with the “life flashing before my eyes” phenomenon during near-death experiences. However, my father did survive a 99% blockage in his carotid artery, so it’s possible that experience triggered a protracted experience of life review).

It became increasingly obvious that my father was stuck on the distant past and enjoyed nothing more than talking at length about his childhood, his family, where he grew up, and his experiences from infancy through adolescence.

As fascinating as this was, he seemed almost stuck there. More recent memories held little interest. He would gladly engage with the present, yet would always slide back into the good ol’ days at the first opportunity.

1965- Wes Fresh -02
Papa CQC in 1965, the golden era of slide development

 

He needed an outlet.

These memories are valuable, to him and to me and to the ever-growing literature on the human experience. So I bought him a journal to chronicle his every thought. I admit now that it was for somewhat selfish reasons – I hoped that if he had a journal as his patient audience, we could return to talk on events that affected us all equally.

But I also hoped it would provide him solace. He could know that these experiences no longer resided solely in his head, but were preserved in ink. My sister and I serve as guardians to the record, as he fills each volume and passes them on to us.

Not every page is filled with memories. Many are chronicles of daily life, occasionally intertwined with the thoughts and memories they trigger. He adamantly avoids sentiment, preferring to recount descriptions instead.

He asked me to write about my cats. My sister had already penned a brief description of her newly-acquired pet ducks.

ducks
Yes, ducks.

 

I was given half a page. As I wrote, I realized that writing even a few sentences was therapeutic. To put your thoughts, experiences, memories out into the world not as vaporous words, but as material letters… it was the kind of therapy I had encouraged in my father, but let fall by the wayside in my own journey.

So I’m back. For now. When I can. When there’s time.

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