The Diary

Used to be a diary was a little book with a cheap key that you locked so nobody could read what you wrote.

I surfed the atmosphere this morning and read many of your posts about the inaugural (didn't always comment, sorry about that, but I was there!).

I guess as a therapist I'm thinking that anything that gives us hope is a good thing. And the President of the United States has so much power, so much power, despite our checks and balances, that having a new one in the White House, one who inspires hope and optimism, not fear, feels very good.

Emotions, you see, generalize. We do get some of our emotional stim, if not a lot of it from the social-political reality show of life.

The Story:

The kids came over for dinner because a huge cabbage in the refrigerator in the basement said to me, Either you fry me up or I am going to change from green to black, the change is beginning, as you can see, and you know, although black is beautiful, it is not going to be pretty.

I had some egg roll skins in the freezer and a little wild rice, and there is always food stuff somewhere to fry up in the wok.

So we were talking and Cham said, "It was overwhelming, yesterday. It was a good, good day."

It is time to interject here to tell you that I have people, people who worked incessantly for President Obama. I mean, people who lived to see him get elected, who worked for him, prayed for him, all but worshiped him, while I patiently listened and weighed the virtues of each candidate and what he or she had to say. Not that they didn't, but they made up their minds for change, not the stuff we give the guy who sits with a cup outside of Blockbuster, either.

And it's not easy being around enthusiastic, strong-willed people with strong opinions and obviously, ownership of the truth, the real dope of life, what's really going on.

It's hard, when you have a strong opinion (and I have many, so I know) not to think that your particular truth isn't the only truth. How could anyone else have a truth that is true, too, if mine is obviously true?

Truth is, there are many truths. Therapists will go so far as to say that a person's reality is that person's reality, end of story. Post-modern interpretation of seeing validates everyone's reality. And seeing reality, I'm pretty sure, is the way we see truth. The two become interchangeable. We believe what we see.

Being a post-modernist, accepting that there are multiple realities and that they are all true, if only to the people who have them, will gracefully get us through not only political and religious differences, but most of relationship conflict in life.

At dinner I remarked about the fact that so many people blogged about the Obama inaugural. My son said that it only makes sense. A blog is a diary for most people, for most young people, at least, and they want to look back at it in the future and say,
This is where I was at mentally/emotionally/physically at such and such a time in my life.
As obvious as it is, as true as this is for so many people who journal with a blog, those of us who are a little older can't even wrap our minds around the idea that what we write on the Web is actually permanent.

We click "publish" and the post disappears! It's out there!

If you're neurotic like me, you think, Maybe one day the Internet will go down and we'll never even see it again!

I guess that says something about me, but nothing we don't already know.

I have to stop right now. Yesterday I promised myself I'd get some work done, quit blogging for the week. It's okay not to look back and remember most of it.



Anonymous said…
Strange thing is that the younger people are, the more naive they seem to be about the internet. It must appear to them like a monolith that's always been there in the form they see it today, and always will be. Many have an odd lack of insight into what it really is and who it belongs to.

No way their thoughts are going to be stored for them to come back years from now and read. The data (not thoughts) is stored now on a server that belongs to someone else, the space most of them are using is given free in return for ads, even if it's paid for there's all the fine print nobody ever reads in the contract that says we don't owe you nuttin' and we can stop all this the minute we like. The technology will change moment to moment and it leaves all that data behind in forms that are inaccessible to the average user, assuming they aren't over-written. We wont' even talk about viruses and physical failures.

The concept of an online blog as a diary is true enough--it can be a written record or meditation on what happened. But the data record itself (vs the expression) doesn't belong to the writer. At least I could pay a few hundred bucks to have an expert try to retrieve my old "manuscripts" off a 20 year old Apple hard drive. But stuff on the might gently suggest that if your son wants to read his record of this inauguration to HIS children, that get some acid-free paper and print out his blog, put it in an archival box, and tuck it away as we've done since we started recording on clay tablets.

Data is more ephemeral than paper, and paper is ephemeral too. Vellum is nice if you keep it dry. ;)
therapydoc said…

My daughter-in-law's mother had a professional photographer print out pictures of our grandchildren on REALLY good paper.

And let me tell you. The touch, the look, the feel . ..unbelievable, and SO much more intimate and special than any digital photo could ever be (unless it is printed on really nice paper, obviously).
Rachelz said…
Being one of those "young people" I do think of the internet as infaliable. I do think of a blog as an online journal that will last throughout time. Maybe that's wrong, but pen and paper won't work for our generation. Our brains have been trained from young age to work off of a computer screen- so what can we do?

I did lose my harddrive once with all of my creative stories that I had written. It was very sad. But now I back up everything on a flash drive. Maybe I should start backing up blogs too?

But the truth is, nothing is truly safe unless you do lock it away in a box. And as nice as nostalgia is to look back on, even if blogging only becomes about the act of getting out of yourself your reflections- thats enough. Because just the process of reflection is invaluable.
Something to think about though, thanks!
blognut said…
I've journaled, I've blogged, I've backed up, I've lost.... The therapy for me is in the writing. Sure, reading back over it some day (SOME of it), might be fun. But most of the stuff I've written over the years was for the purpose of getting it out, away from me, not for reliving it or sharing it with future generations (perish the thought); now I just blog for the amusement of it. I think if I were writing for a historical purpose, I'd back it up, print it out, burn it to a CD, and put it all in a safety deposit box AND I'd still blog some of it.
Syd said…
I keep a written journal and the blog. The written journal is more raw and personal. The blog is sometimes about me and sometimes about ideas. It's what comes to mind that day. I don't think anything is really permanent but realize that it is a record of what has been said that will be around for some time.
ultraspy said…
Very interesting perspectives from everyone. I admit that I am surprised that younger people think of the the internet as Rachelz said, "infallible." I've considered it to be a temporary means of communication. I'm always shocked when I see posts from "back in the day." Part of me wishes I had taken it more seriously and written something of depth, the other part of me says, "Naw, life's serious enough. It's good therapy to simply blog about the silly things that make me smile."

Anyhoo, I rarely comment, but I love this blog! And, oooooh, I see you twitter! I'm so going to add you. For the record, my twitter is "ultraspy" and you don't have to follow me back. I post goofy things like, "today I scratched me ear." Again, this part of life is for my entertainment!
therapydoc said…
Love it, Ultra. I'll follow.
And it's not easy being around enthusiastic, strong-willed people with strong opinions and obviously, ownership of the truth, the real dope of life, what's really going on.

Reality check: At times, this is a reflection of my own stuff. Being strongly intuitive and perceptive has its drawbacks. Thank you for the "re-minding".

And I have great reverence for the "Delete" key. What a glorious moment it was to pull the plug one day. Freedom!!!

What is permanent, after all? (Besides love.)

Thanks again.
Anonymous said…
Rachelz said:

I do think of a blog as an online journal that will last throughout time. Maybe that's wrong, but pen and paper won't work for our generation. Our brains have been trained from young age to work off of a computer screen- so what can we do?

Having been trained from a young age to use pen and paper, I can testify that it ain't impossible to expand on your early training and learn something new and different. ;)
therapydoc said…
I love this conversation. Does anyone remember letters? Those STACKS of letters we had, not just from lovers, but from people like grandparents?

You could pick up on a mood with the handwriting. There were doodles in the margins. Perfume.
Pam said…
If you knew me, you would know how huge this is for me to say: I was able to understand something her in this post becuase of just the right phrasing or whatever reason....about other peoples truth.
Thank you very much.
blognut said…
L-E-T-T-E-R-S? You mean people used to write all this stuff out by hand? I know for sure I'd have a lot less to say if I had to write things down by hand and then (heaven forbid), go out and buy a stamp.
benjamin said…
Being a post-modernist, accepting that there are multiple realities and that they are all true, if only to the people who have them, will gracefully get us through not only political and religious differences, but most of relationship conflict in life.

I think what you're getting at is the ability to empathize and I think this is very a good approach. At the same time, our realities are also in constant flux based on reason, emotion, and experience.

There are good realities and bad realities. A reality of tolerance is a good reality. Osama bin Laden's version of truth and reality is not. Ultimately, the trick is to communicate with others and help them (and ourselves) to arrive at good realities, without disrespecting them or pushing them away.
the therapist said…
Yes, it's very interesting. I sometimes wonder if blogging is a failure of nerve, whereby the written journal (which noone will ever see) has more emotional integrity. While I love blogging, I am not sure it can ever be as cathartic as a journal.
Reas Kroicowl said…
I have lots of letters--letters that date back to pen pals from when I was 13. They're organized by date and stowed in manilla envelopes. I have journals, too. Tons of them. Although I think what I really like are the books, because a lot of them aren't filled. Many are on-going projects: wine journal, quote journal, art journal...
Pink Hollyhock said…
Blogging is all about being in the moment with other people who are being in the moment. I don't give it much weight for being the repository of all thoughts bright and brilliant. But there's something to be said for its value as a contemporary touchstone, a window and a mirror, if only for the time being.
Mark said…
Yes blogging is much like keeping a diary of thoughts, however the big difference from when we were kids is that we make our thoughts public. Blogging is a very healthy way to express our thoughts.
therapydoc said…
I think it's more cathartic for some because we're out there as bloggers. It's exciting. People read the diary and we get into trouble.

Isn't that what it's all about?

And Benjamin, what does it say about me that I could empathize with the terrorists, and yet, would shut them down, destroy their plots and insanity in a minute if I could.

In other words, I can sympathize with the poverty that feeds on the minds of would be terrorists, but if someone exposed a plan, I'd bop him on the head with whatever blunt object I could lay my hands on.
blognut said…
I'm with you TD. I can understand that they know no other way, and have often been bred to believe in hate as their own truth, but I'd bop them in a heartbeat if I had the chance. Actually, bop may not be the word, but we'll go with it!
Anna said…
Therapydoc, why is it that about half of your blog posts aren't readable for me? They show up in my google reader, but they don't seem to exist on your blog?
therapydoc said…
I'll bet not half of them. Here's what happens, however.

Sometimes I'll be writing and my pinky hits a key on my computer that publishes the post prematurely. I'm not even sure how it happens.

But I'm not ready for showtime, so immediately I have to open up the editor and save it as a draft to keep working. Then when it's ready for prime time, I deliberately press Publish.

I'm guessing this happens quite a bit since I'm a therapist, really, not a professional typist, although I click along pretty fast, (The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog method in seventh grade)

If anyone knows which key I keep hitting to publish by accident, please let me know!

You'll get what I worked on tonight tomorrow, probably. Maybe Monday.
therapydoc said…
I just did it again, publishing that comment too soon. It might be the shift button.
Anna said…
:) Well, I guessed that what was happening, that you were working on drafts. But then, I don't always see the final draft published.

Ah, I think I've found out, now.
That draft version, the link is broken. Then the real version is published (eventually) and it doesn't show in my reader, because I have already 'read' it.
Forgive me for pointing it out.

I don't have the slip-of-the-key problem with blogger, although another place I visit has a backspace issue.
You're writing this really deep, thoughtful thing, click outside the text window, change your mind, click backspace- and it understands that to be a 'previous webpage' command- and all your post is lost!
All that to say, yes, I understand.
Melissa said…
Much as I am fan of blogging, I think there is something to be said for good old fashioned letters. My favorite uncle, who passed away two years ago, and was a writer, humorist and all around fine human being used to write me a letter on my birthday each year, from when I was about eight years old on. I still have many of them, written on his old typewriter. I looked forward to my birhtday more than anything else because of running to the mailbox to find those letters.

therapydoc said…
Melissa, thanks. That's what I'm talking about. And that's gone forever. I think it is.

Except people still send cards by mail and sometimes we write notes inside of these. So there's hope after all.

Anna, that's so interesting. I guess I should warn my readers about that. Okay, I'll get to it.
Thanks for this post - thoughtful, as always. Here are some - hopefully relevant thoughts on the question of a public diary.

For me, writing is like breathing. I tell that to my mother every time she comments on how often I write on my blog even though I seem to be so busy (too busy, I have to watch out and take care of myself, don’t I know I do way too much - and it’s not funny.)

Reading someone is an expression isn’t it? Do you read me? I read you. Rodger and out. Writers put into black and white the ubiquitous human desire to be read. My wish to be read is what compels me to write.

I say sometimes that I write to vent, that I could just put away what I wrote and feel better, even if no-one ever reads it. That’s true. But it’s also true that I want to be read.