This post acts as a supplement to my “About Me” page which I prefer to keep brief. Here I’ll explain a little further why I keep an open journal.
It all begins with one moment at 21 years of age, when I had a profound realization. It is this realization which I have forgotten and come back to many times over the past twenty years and is a major piece of the map by which I try and guide my own life.
I was in Cork, Ireland where my ancestors are from and decided to rent a bike and ride it out into the countryside. Soon I was surrounded by nothing but beautifully green hills and exposed gray rock. I came upon what looked like an abandoned graveyard and I thought I’d take a look – perhaps I would find a few tombstones with my last name. Many graves were illegible, and some seemed about ready to tip over. The grass was high and I wondered if this graveyard would ever be tended or was completely forgotten?
As I stood in this graveyard, far away from the noise of the city and without having seen another soul for many hours I began to imagine what life must have been like for the people laid to rest there. They would have loved and been loved, experienced joy and hardship, raised families, had ups and downs and had a life experience not too unlike our very own. And now here they lie, most likely forgotten. The story of their lives washed away by the march of time with nobody left to remember them or tell their stories. Their descendants most likely have all moved away, many probably to America, others not far, but all of them have probably forgotten who lies in this graveyard.
To think of the importance we put on what we do, what we say in our own lives and then realize that every life story belonging to the people in this graveyard have been forgotten is profound. We too will be forgotten and the majority of things we attach such importance to in our own lives won’t matter in the least in as little as 50 years, let alone 100 years.
Society conditions us to be task-doers, to constantly crave another knick-knack and to desire money with which it is believed happiness can be bought.
I’ve decided to take another track; I’ll resist the siren call of society and go my own way. I’ve decided to enjoy life itself and immerse myself completely in its daily experiences. The accumulation of experiences after all determine the form and shape a life takes. Further, there are many incredible experiences that happen daily if one simply directs their mind to pay attention to them. There is a sunrise and sunset every single day. Flowers bloom, rain storms appear, children grow, friends pay a visit, delicious food is made and wine tasted. All one must do is be in the moment, stop the mind from wandering and grasping. When you taste the wine, stop thinking about other things and direct all of your focus to the flavors in the wine. When playing with children appreciate the moment in knowing time is fleeting and you’ll never have another day exactly like this. Although it sounds simple it is not easy to focus the mind, it is something I must continually remind myself to do many times a day, every week, every year.
And so it is these experiences and my overall stream of consciousness I wish to record and thus be able to remember as time marches on and memories begin to fade. Mindsets change as we age and I enjoy remembering what and how I thought many years ago, what was going on and what thoughts were at the forefront of my mind. I think it will also be interesting for my descendants to read when I’m long gone; I know I’d like to read anything written by my own ancestors, especially ones that lived a very long time ago.
I want to record my own life experience and in doing so I feel free and unconstrained. Society by its nature forces conformity, fear, shame and thus most people keep their inner thoughts secret, rarely even shared with their intimates. I’ve decided to live a wonderful life and I see no reason to keep my experiences or my thoughts hidden.
Footnote: For a more complete post on my experience in this graveyard which contributed to how I view the meaning of life check it out this post I wrote back in 2010: Graveyards and the Meaning of Life.