I hate country music. I listened to it up until 2009 when “Rockin’ the Beer Gut” first aired, I haven’t touched the genre since. “Red Solo Cup” certainly didn’t encourage me either. Now that I’ve established that fact let’s talk about a song from my before my anti-country days. Do you remember the song “Letter to Me” by Brad Paisley? It about a man who wants to write a letter to himself at 17 years old. He gives himself advice such as study your Spanish, thank your English teacher for seeing your potential, and hug Aunt Rita every chance you get. I thought it was a fascinating concept to get advice from your future self but since time travel was still not an option I’ve had to get a little more inventive with it. When I was 14 I started a tradition of writing a letter to my future self every year on my birthday. Once I read the letter a year later I’ll write a response to it as well as a letter to myself another year in the future. I have a box of letter’s each marked with the date of when I’m supposed to open it. I haven’t missed a year yet but that’s most likely because it only requires commitment one day out of the year. I am the worst journal keeper ever.
I’m beginning to recognize the importance of documenting your life more than I ever did before. Your perspective of life changes with every event you go though making it impossible to see past events from the perspective you had at the time they happened. The only way to see an event from the perspective and worldview you had during the time it happened is to record it during that time. You lose so much by not writing down your thoughts and feelings throughout your life, not to mention the loss to future generations.
My mom, an avid scrapbooker, had completed 5 photo albums for me by the time I was 15. Which is a huge task if you consider the fact that she has 5 children and did the same for all of them! The memories preserved in those pictures within those albums are precious to me in that I would have lost most of them if it were not for the pictures. I haven’t been so dedicated with keeping my scrapbooks updated. With the internet, social media and digital photography we can document our lives very easily at any time, which is great, but lately I have been wondering how timeless that way of documenting really is. How accessible will your Facebook be to your grandchildren? Will our digital technology be so outdated that it won’t even be available for them to view? Maybe those worries are groundless but it is a good thing to consider.
Social media content is normally just “surface” events, things you don’t mind having the whole world seeing. I think we lose a lot of our deeper memories and feelings if we only rely on social media for our record keeping. My cousin Abby recently tweeted,
“Reading old journals has got to be one of the most humbling experiences. #whatwasithinking”
Humbling indeed, yet valuable. How can you possibly see how you have changed and progressed if you don’t have a way to look at the past? I am glad that I kept up my yearly ‘letter to me’ but I regret being lazy with my daily journaling. My goal this year is to be very intentional about documenting my life, organizing that information and publishing it somewhere, perhaps in a good old-fashioned photo album.
Is documenting your life important to you? Do you have any creative ways of doing it in this computer age?