My project is beginning to take shape. I’ve been getting ready for the big day when I actually crack open that first dusty journal. How? Mostly by psyching myself up, but a few other things have been happening too…
Step 1: Locating my old journals.
Done. They weren’t hard to find. They were still parcelled up in the very same cardboard box I used 25 years ago to ship them home to my parents’ house when my backpack got too heavy. Since then, I’ve moved 10 times! As I packed up my ever-expanding household for each of those transitions, I would stumble across that beat-up carton. I’d consider flipping through the journals, but never did. “Too much to do. Must pack. Must stay focussed,” I’d tell myself.
Finally the time is right. I’m pretty excited. It’s hard not to peek ahead of time, but I’ve been good so far! In the meantime, they’re ready and waiting.
Step 2: Deciding what to blog about.
This took me a while to figure out. The reading part will be straightforward. I plan to simply match up the dates; like, on November 13, 2015 I’ll read about November 13, 1990. Easy. It’s the writing part that had me kind of stumped. I don’t want this to end up being a high-school-essay-style “compare-and-contrast” exercise. Yawn. And I’m not looking to compile a laundry list of “things then” and “things now.” Double yawn. And, like I always tell my students, pointless stream-of-consciousness navel-gazing is to be avoided at all costs. So, what is the point here? A self-indulgent trip down memory lane? Nothing wrong with that, I guess. But I had hoped that this exercise would be more meaningful than just a long sentimental look in the rear-view mirror.
The other day the answer came to me. I happened to be giving feedback to a writer friend about a story she wrote. After complimenting her on a lot of stuff (compelling theme! descriptive setting! sympathetic protagonist… nice! ) I pointed out that one important element was missing from her narrative. “Where’s the action?” I asked.
Where’s the action? Bingo. That’s just what “Dusty Journals” needs too. Action.
I realized that it’s not enough to just read about what I did back in 1990. I need to recapture those past experiences and do something with them.
Step 3: Coming up with an action plan.
Here’s the deal. Not only am I going to read about the things I did back then and reminisce about them–I’m also going to relive them! Hopefully I can recapture the excitement, the novelty, the carefree fun…
Okay, okay. I know I’m getting carried away. Obviously, I won’t be able to do exactly the same things I did twenty-five years ago in a place half-way across the world. I mean, like, I can’t snorkel around the Great Barrier Reef and be back in time to drive my kid to baseball tryouts and walk the dog. Duh. The plan is to challenge myself to do something at least in the spirit of those cool, non-suburban-middle-aged-mommy-sorts-of-things I used to do.
Will I make a fool of myself in the process? Possibly. But as my kids like to say: “whatevs.” Now that I have a half-century under my belt, I don’t care so much about looking foolish.
It’s time to shake things up a bit.