Stop! Sucking! Day 14: Stop...and look back

I've saved all my old journals.

I've also saved my old emails, versions of résumés (both "regular" and acting-flavored), college papers, old-skool correspondence and of course, every post on this blog.

My cocktail-party-joke reason is that I want to make life easier for my biographers. Similarly, I have been known to tell people to "save that letter" or original, limited silkscreen print, because someday, it will be worth a fortune.

Truthfully, I save things for me. There's a little bit of hoarder in me, born of loss. Alcoholic mom, lots of moves, lots of precious losses. That's why stuff like this is so precious to me. I used to groan at my grandparents' obsessive saving of everything, but now? I'm grateful.

Still, if it all went up in smoke...or down in flood, or disappeared into the space-time continuum, it would be okay. Really, they're just visual aids for the real exercise: looking back.

The nostalgia part of looking back is fun, in an escapist way. There's no denying that escapism plays at least some role in the looking-back process. In the same way I'm obsessed with certain movies or TV shows, I'm obsessed with deconstructing certain photos: what were my mom and dad thinking when this was taken? Did my mom think of me as me here, or as a blob of genes that looked like her and her new husband? Or even, "Was I ever really this happy?"

And, as my friend, Peleg, and I were discussing this morning, saving old stuff can make you feel immensely better about where you are now. Because it's easy to forget, in the day-to-day, month-to-month, even year-to-year seeming monotony of incremental change that yes, one has made significant progress, even if it can't be measured in yacht-footage or bank-account zeros.

I've started doing some consulting work, and Peleg suggested, actually, insisted that I get a digital recorder and start taping my sessions. Because there is so much information flying so fast, it's important for the person on the receiving end to be able to go back, listen again, and catch the things she's missed. And to see how far she's come.

I figure it's pretty important for the people on the receiving end of the coaching, too...

xxx c

Image by useful_fiction via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.