The other day I was reading one of my older journals and there’s this whole section in there about mad cow disease.
“Everyone’s freaking out about mad cow disease. I’m not supposed to be eating red meat I guess, so I ordered a burger. This is the most delicious burger I’ve ever had in my entire life. I decided to read a book about mad cow disease and I guess you get holes in your brain and go insane and then you die but I’m still not going vegetarian. Oh yeah, there’s also something called bird flu. I don’t have any time, look it up.”
I thought this was hilarious because for one, I absolutely remember reading this book about mad cow disease. Do you know how many non-fiction books are being written about things you know nothing about? Basically like, I dunno, one every fifty seconds or something. And just now I spent 20 seconds staring at the weird lipstick mark on my coffee cup.
Can you ever hear the seconds of your life, tick, tick, tick.
I’ve started journaling about things like this more often. I’ll write things in my journal about black lives matter or the bathroom bill and I’ll draw little doodles in the margins of republicans looking slighted. These are the things that really matter. Thirty years from now (I’ll be 57) my children crutched over my space chair asking me why those cisgender white people used to be so angry all the time and why were there only two genders and oh it just doesn’t make any sense. By this time we’ll have science fiction movies about the gender binary and everyone over the age of 45 will say things like he or she and sound ancient as fuck.
It’s all a theory, I suppose, a terrifying vision of a happier future. But without my journal, how would I remember any of it? I’d already completely forgotten about bird flu. And what about that one terrifying week where no one wanted to leave the house because they might be bitten by a mosquito? What about the floods? The hurricanes? The earthquakes? How can we capture the emotion of a privileged white girl in her 20s miles away from any real harm? A journal! She’s got it.
I’ve also started writing down two other things of importance: how I feel about people on any given day (hilarious to look back on even week to week) and how I feel about people I’ve just met. If you don’t know what to journal, journal about people. Write down the most ordinary things you notice about them. The way they sit. The way they talk. A funny laugh they do. One day these people will be better friends, or they’ll be gone altogether. Maybe they will be your spouse. And you will hold those little things and cradle them gentle like fireflies as the paper fades and wrinkles beneath your sweaty and eager fingers.