Sunday, 7 June 2015

Stormy Waters

Last week I went on a cruise from Kiel to Oslo. And forgot my diary in the cabin.
Those pages are a written testament from the moment I left SA, with all the trips, concerts, emotions and thoughts in between recorded in it. I realise full and well it is just paper, it is not the thing of most monetary worth that I could have lost. Yet it matters, because it cannot be replaced. I try to remember what I wrote down. The drawings I did of the covered Muslim ladies at Doha airport with their very fancy footwork. The questioning of whether the winter depression will ever end, whether depression can truly be linked to the darkness outside and is not simply a consequence of not being able to see the wood for the trees. Late night notes on a full moon admired from my bedroom window. Little trips to Copenhagen, Hamburg, Amsterdam. Drawn maps of places where I didn't have internet. Daily anecdotes on the long vacation back home. All these words, lost.

I've had diaries since childhood. In a box at my mother's house a dozen or more are gathering dust. Perhaps each of us has something that saves us, something that makes sense when everything else does not. For the one it may be a form of exercise, for another it may be escaping into WoW or League of Legends or some other alliterated game. It may be a person or a pet or dancing to 'Lotus Flower' when you are alone. Yet (I assume) we all need to flee our minds and our environments at times. And that is what these diaries have provided: a safe space to make sense of things. Not even to make sense so much, rather to release the jumbled mess in my brain onto the neat lines of a page. The written word, the word written in my handwriting, makes the bad and the good better.

My aunt asked me last year why I write. What is the reason to sit down, whether it be in front of a computer or a blank page or a diary or a typewriter or whichever other device you may choose, and to start pouring the words onto paper?

The answer is simple: there is nothing else. It is not about being read by others (although naturally one also wants to be read) or about creating the next great novel or changing the world. This writing is a chance to be selfish, to give all of myself to myself. It is a chance to see how I have changed over the years, how what seemed like mountains at the time could be conquered. It is a testament to the past, stemming from the fear that something might be forgotten. It is writing with my fountain pen when most things are typed these days. It is collecting tiny snippets of concert tickets and everyday conversations. It is knowing that words matter.

Quite fitting: this Scrabble ad. "There's magic in words". Indeed.

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