A week ago, I wrote about a time in 1990 when I was naked onstage while under hypnosis. The post was written after someone sent me information on a naked stand-up show in New York City, which caused me to reflect on a time a few years ago when I was invited to perform in a naked storytelling show in Boston.
In the midst of all of this possible nudity, I thought, “Wait! I’ve already been naked onstage once before!”
My second thought was this:
Have I ever written about that before? So I searched my blog and found that I had. Back on February 25, 2011 – more than a decade ago – I wrote about the incident. As I read through the decade-old post, I was fascinated by its level of detail. It felt as if the post had been somehow sourced.
So I thought:
Did I write about this contemporaneously in one of my journals?
So I went to my office, pulled out my stack of journals, and found an entry from April of 1990 that recounted the evening in great detail.
After finding a 12-year-old post about the event online, I also found a 32-year journal entry about the same event, filled with the details that the post contained. Twelve years ago, I must’ve used this contemporary account of that night to write the post on my blog.
I found a primary source document about me, written by me.
I have written every single day without exception since November 30, 1988.
I have written a blog post every single day since December 10, 2005.
I’ve been doing Homework for Life every single day of my life since August 5, 2013, and less consistently for two years before that.
In the past 14 years, I’ve published six novels, two books of nonfiction, and more than a hundred columns for Seasons and Slate magazine.
Maybe you don’t need to write as incessantly and relentlessly as I do but write. Just a little bit each week would be amazing. Or begin doing Homework for Life, a task that takes five minutes per day that will change your life. Or start keeping a journal, recording the moments of your day, as benign as they might sometimes feel.
It was joyous to recall a moment from my life – naked onstage – and be able to dive back into the written record to find entries about that night from sources two decades apart.
Thank goodness the younger version of myself was taking care of the current version of myself by taking the time to write. Allowing me to remember. Ensuring that my life would feel full and rich and multitudinous.
We walk through life discarding the memory of our days like they are meaningless. We assume that we will remember the important moments of our lives, but like all memories, those, too, will fade if not recorded.
My in-laws recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. I asked about the music played at their wedding. “What did you dance to?” I asked.
They couldn’t remember if there was music at their wedding. My father-in-law’s sister, who also attended that wedding, could not remember. It’s not because they have poor memories. It’s because even the most important moments of our lives – our wedding day – are lost to us if not preserved.
We leave behind entire years of our lives as if they weren’t worth remembering.
Don’t allow this to happen to you.
You can scroll through the lives of others on social media. You can watch another television show that you will soon forget. You can stare at another YouTube or TikTok video while the world passes you by.
Or you can sit down every day and write a little about what you’re doing, how you’re feeling, and where your life is taking you. What are your hopes and dreams? What do you fear most? What did you see today that you have never seen before? Who do you love? What memory filtered into your mind from the past?
You can toss away today like everything that happened was meaningless, or you can write about it.
Just a little.
If you’re doing Homework for Life, very little.
Your future self will thank you. I promise.