I have been so stuck for inspiration these last few days and have been wondering why on earth I signed up for another NaBloPoMo. Each night I sit with my laptop on my, well, lap and look blankly at the screen - full of weariness, mind a-whirl with unprintable (or is that unwriteable?) thoughts - wishing that a big bucket of whipped cream or, even better, peanut butter (given I have a rather inconvenient dairy intolerance), would just drop on me from a great height and give me a legitimate excuse not to post for that day. I suppose if that did happen, then I really would have something to blog about.
In lieu of the great bucket of goo in the sky (which failed to drop again), I took a look at what I wrote last year. I realise that if I could manage it then, I can surely manage it now. It's an interesting thing, keeping a blog. It is a wonderful record of some bits of your life. Of course, there are whole bits left unrecorded which are gradually retreating into the Dim Memory Cupboard - that fate of all memories over time.
I was pondering this exact issue today as I was driving to one errand or another - the impossibility of making, or keeping, an exact account of your life. I once read about an artist who methodically, and quite obsessively, tried to record everything he did in a day. Every, tiny, little, insignificant thing. I can't remember much more than that (please prompt me if you know) but the idea has always intrigued me. It would be an almost unbearably time consuming and mind consuming task. The man obviously didn't have children.
However, I can sort of see its attraction. In part, I imagine that he wanted to just see how each day was spent - to have a written account of how the seconds, minutes, hours were slowly absorbed by decisions, actions, pauses. Yet, I can also see that there is a kind of desperation to it as well. I don't know what his motivations were but should I be drawn to such madness, it would be driven by a desire to catch and hold (capture and imprison) all the details of my life. There's a kind of anxiety born of such an endeavour, one that tries to escape the knowledge that just as life is happening, it is also leaving us; leaving us to be held in the imperfect, changing, slipping world of memory. The inexorability of life can be daunting if you think about it too long.
And then there is the problem of what details are important to record. For just making note of all the activities you did in a day doesn't even begin to cover what you thought about, how you felt, how you changed your mind (or why), who changed you, and when you fell in love (or into despair). Imagine trying to record all of that. It would take all day just to jot down where your mind wandered on the way from the bedroom to sitting down to breakfast. And of course, you can't observe it all objectively anyway (let alone remember it all) and then write it down as if it were a done deal. The moment you think of writing it down shapes what you think next, how you feel, and what calls you to respond to it.
No, this business of keeping an account of one's life is a messy, shot-in-the-dark, make-it-up-as-you-go-along kind of a thing. The best we can do is just offer something. For some of us it will be irregular, quirky, changeable, blog posts which show just a part of one of the many facets that make up a life. Others will attempt a more systematic, thorough-going record - perhaps in a journal or a memoir. I'll leave the obsessive write-every-single-thing-down-until-life-is-whittled-down-to-an-exhausting-pattern-of-doing-and-recording to the artists. Someone has to do it.
I'm going to just record the stuff I can record when I've got a mind to record it. If I keep it cheerful then when I'm old and losing my mind I can look back on my blog and think, "Golly gee, I did have me a good life." (I will have developed a southern American drawl with my dementia.)