Why We Must Keep a Record (But What Will We Write?)
I am reassessing my attention to blogging for two simple, but profound reasons. The first is more simple than the second, and has everything to do with having discovered the fresh and exciting blog of a friend who had kept it secret from me for far too long. It is not out of a competetive spirit but one of encouragement and inspiration that I restart my own after enjoying his! The second reason is a bit more complicated and requires more explanation, starting with a recent screening of “The Endurance.” This film beautifully and compellingly documents the miraculous survival of Ernest Shackleton’s crew of 25 men whom had set sail for Antarctica in 1914 only to be stranded for over a year in the floating glacial ice. Though they faced extreme dangers and likely death, all 25 survived due to the clear humility and determination of Shackleton, as well as the necessary aid of God, without whom they would most surely have perished. Though I take away from this film a sense of absolute awe of the vastness and brutality of the arctic terrain, as well as the excitement of the tale of enduring survival, I am most compelled by the existence of the record itself. This film is comprised of a great deal of actual film and still footage shot by crew members during the experience, as well as audio material from interviews taken upon their eventual return to England! In addition, the availability of extensive and detailed log entries made by several key crew members has clearly preserved this event for history. Perhaps the extreme lonliness, isolation and idle time compelled these men to write, but something tells me that the practice of keeping a journal was already part of their lives. Certainly, this was a time in which the written word was far more valuable than it is today, as it was a necessary method of communication and documentation- unaided by the modern conveniences of telephones, televisions, and the internet. Perhaps the lack of these advances allowed for men to think in a way that we cannot today, or at least for the reliance upon and enjoyment of articulation that is too cumbersome for our emails, blogs, and text messages. I found myself simultaneously inspired to keep my own detailed personal account, yet wondering just what it was that I would write about! I don’t really need to write a journal- thousands upon thousands of bloggers are already filling the internet with thoughts on current events and culture that couldn’t possibly be much different from my own. Television is broadcasting countless hours of entertainment and cultural feedback. The internet is endlessly delivering information to me such that I have little room left in my own mind to contribute. In other words, what am I thinking about that hasn’t come from any of these ubiquitous sources?
Maybe it’s time that these sources are put in their proper place. Perhaps I should consider keeping a faithful record of my life if only to commit to contributing something of substance- not feeding back the opinions I am told to espouse by CNN commentators, not gossiping about the currently embarrasing state of our celebrity-worshipping culture, not shamelessly critiquing the creative exploits of those people within my own community whom I depend on to link to my website, not committing more words of complaint toward government and country that require me to polarize and generalize a massive population of individuals- but putting words to the experience of my life. Why? So that someday someone may read them and, in realizing the humanity of a man long since gone, say, “This man actually felt this!”