documenting your life

Published on April 25, 2020

I just authored a blog post on watching commercials.

To my knowledge, I have no special insights that qualify me to comment on commercials. I did not study media in school, and, to be honest, I do not consume much television content at all now. However, I still thought that I had enough to share to write a blog post about the topic, and so I did, and I think it turned out quite well.

As I wrote the post, I found a little voice in the back of my mind asking the question: should this really be posted on your blog? Where are the insights on productivity, or happiness, or philosophy which usually constitute one of your blog posts?

The answer: they are still there, but I do not believe they are as directly stated as usual.

During these times, I have been constantly reminding myself of the importance of documenting my experiences as much as possible.

Each day, I write in my journal for around 20 minutes -- a practice I have been maintaining for about a year -- and write down my thoughts on the day. My journaling time is usually reserved for my mundane thoughts, and the intimate ideas with which I am not comfortable sharing.

My blog, on the other hand, has usually assumed some role in my professional life.

I write about topics such as progress, productivity, and happiness because, not only are they interesting to me, but they come together to create a cohesive narrative of the thoughts that are in my mind. One day, I may be thinking about careers; the next, my thoughts are all written down, on paper.

Both of these practices serve an important purpose: to take note of what is going on in my life. And, when I think about it, I think the purpose of my blog needs to evolve. I’ll get to that in a minute.

There are a few different reasons why I write on a daily basis. For one, writing helps me think -- it helps me turn my scattered thoughts into something more complete. Secondly, though, writing allows me to create a written record of my life, to which I can refer in the future.

Having this written record is comforting to me because it means that, over time, I am able to build up a massive repository of my thoughts on topics. Some of those thoughts may be incomplete, but that is acceptable; I can always revise them later. Some of them may be inaccurate, but that’s fine; I can always recant a blog post if I change my perspective and write a new one with my updated thoughts.

While I have not done this yet -- I don’t think I have been blogging long enough -- there is some real value that I can extract from just looking back on past blog posts. The blog post I wrote last week on careers, for instance, could provide me with valuable support when I think about the same topic next week, or next month, or next year.

Writing gives me a record of my thoughts. Not only that, writing gives me an evolutionary record, so I can see how my thoughts have evolved over time.

If I think back to last week, for instance, I wrote a blog post on personal rules, then I wrote about how I broke one of those rules and ate a cupcake. I still believe in most of what I said about personal rules, but then I had a few experiences that made me feel as though my initial stance was perhaps too strict. My mind still needed time to make the connection between long-term thinking, moderation, and short-term pleasure.

Anyway, back to the blog post on commercials. Commercials, in themselves, are not particularly interesting. For the most part, we let them go on in the background while we get snacks, talk with family, or do something else. And so it makes sense that my mind was asking me “why are you writing about this?”

The reason I wrote about commercials is because, for some reason, commercials are important right now. There may be a higher value topic about which I could have written, but to me commercials seemed important, so I wrote about them.

Given how I noticed something important about commercials -- that, in amongst all of this, commercials have acted as a source of comfort -- I thought there was enough to write a blog post on the topic, and so I did.

I don’t believe there are any groundbreaking insights in my post, and I can almost guarantee that there is a commentary writer out there who has articulated their thoughts on the topic better than me. But that doesn’t matter: what does is that I took the time to document my perspectives, and my thoughts.

Nobody else is going to document my life. I am the one who assumes the sole responsibility for what is recorded and what is not. If I want to see a moment again, I need to be the one who takes the picture; if I want to remember something important, I need to take a note of it before I forget about the idea.

The records on my blog, individually, serve as a record of my thoughts on individual topics. That record, as I mentioned, evolves over time. Collectively, however, my blog posts represent a greater idea of who I am and how I think about the world.

So, I am going to continue to write about the mundane topics that come up in my day to day life. Maybe, tomorrow, I will write about how I enjoyed my morning toast -- a topic, interestingly enough, that I was going to write about today. Or maybe I will write about something more serious, like my evolving thoughts on online courses.

Whatever it is, know this: if I am writing about it, then it means something to me, even if that is not clear to you, the reader.

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