Someone recently asked me why I would write all of the stuff I do and publish it online for anyone to read. They questioned the wisdom of my actions, stating that surely it is unwise to allow just anyone to learn all this stuff about me. After all, they said, the reader gets to find out loads about me when, aside from a few lines of code in a web server log file, I learn nothing about them.
But is that really true? I mean what do you know about me. Chances are you know more about the regular columnist you read in your Sunday paper. In reality, when it comes down to it you don't really know very much about me at all. My name is Simon Jones, I'm just some guy, in some town somewhere in the UK. But I could be anyone.
The thing is I don't really get very personal here. This isn't an online diary full of kiss and tell stories or benign descriptions of what I bought at the grocery store. It's a collection of thoughts and moments that may entertain me in years to come when I print out and re-read this stuff again. If you enjoy reading what I write, then all well and good. And if you don't, well then you're sure to find something to your taste somewhere in the great expanse of zeros and ones that is the internet.
What then is my motivation for publishing this stuff in the first place? Why not just leave it on my computer where only I can see it? A good question I suppose. My answer to that is that I have no answer to that. I don't know why I would share this stuff with a world I can't see. Therapy some would say, others might argue that it's ego. To be honest I hadn't given it much thought until the other day.
I suppose maybe I am setting up personal landmarks in time. I've written diaries before and sometimes I go back and read what I did on a certain day in history. The voice of a late teenage or early twenties version of me speaks out through the pages of time and I find myself laughing at some of the dumb things I said and did. As the author back then I had no idea what would be written on the blank page of tomorrow, and as the reader now every so often I wish I could reach in and steer myself away from what I now know came next.
Of course back then my youth wouldn't listen to the wise. Just as I wouldn't expect those of a similar age to listen to my words now. Those who 'knew better' and tried to throw up roadblocks ahead of me, were summarily dismissed and their roadblocks ignored. The person I was back then seems so very different from who I am now. He was highly strung and on a knifes edge all the time. It seemed that he careered through life bouncing from one obstacle to the next. How that person ever got to where I am today is in itself the source of some amazement to me.
It's been years since I wrote a diary. In a box under the stairs, you'll find an incomplete one from 1996. It stops dead right around the time I get back together with a girl I had previously dated. Presumably, I had a change of priorities about what to do the last thing at night! And even though I toyed with the idea of writing another diary, in the end, I never did.
'Meanwhile' is, I suppose, my modern equivalent of those journals I once kept. The articles may one day make for interesting reading again. If not for anyone else, for me at least. The format might be slightly different, but one noticeable aspect remains the same. I rarely get personal.
Perhaps it's understandable that I would stay away from personal things on the web, but when I look through my old diaries I notice that I write about the world around me, rather than how I felt about it. I question why it is that I seem unable to confess even to my diary the kind of secrets that every diary keeps.
Even now I sit here wondering how on earth I have ended up writing about diaries when really I wanted to write about the fact that today marks a significant tenth anniversary in my life.
October 23rd, 1991 was a landmark day for me. One day, maybe I'll write about it and everything that lead up to it. But for now, at least, that is the one diary I have yet to re-read.
I know that in its pages I wrote a letter to my future self. I can't recall what I wrote. Maybe now I should write another letter to the future, but would I take notice of the voice from the past? Perhaps, although first I'd have to stop and listen, and as I get older and somehow 'wiser', that in itself seems like such a hard thing to do.
Maybe I'd just say, "I don't know what you know, I haven't seen what you've seen. But the person I am now somehow made it to where you are, with and without you. If that sounds strange then maybe you need to ponder on it for a moment, because even though I have no idea what it is, there has to be something in that truth surely."
It's a strange end to an odd 'meanwhile'. I didn't write what I thought I wanted to write. But seeing as how this is written by me and for me, maybe I said enough to say something? I guess that only time will tell.