Is a description of my sex life at 18 really all that interesting?
The internet is filed with confessions and queries about burning diaries. Everyone who writes diaries wrestles with this at some point. We are all the poorer because Isabel Burton burned all her husband’s (Richard Burton) diaries on his death.
I have lived with a diary in my hand since I was 18. Even today, I never go anywhere without a journal. I write in bed, in cafes, on trains and planes. Writing is how I live.
My whole life is in big box. At this moment in my life, and as I contemplate moving, I look at the box filled with diaries. Carrying the past around is heavy, both physically and spiritually.
So I spent a week reading, revisiting the narrative and details of my life. Some was edifying and some was insignificant. I asked myself, how does it make me a better person today to have my life in a box?
I always thought I would want my children to read my diaries so they would truly understand who I was. But now I know that’s ridiculous. Number one, they’re not interested. I am their Mother and that’s all they really want to know. Nothing I write, or nothing about who I was at a time before they were born, will change who I am in their minds.
Then I realized that leaving my diaries behind for my children to dispose of is a painful thing for them to do, like killing a piece of their mother.
Whilst the internet is a great repository of history, a certain part of history has disappeared: the whole culture of letters and diaries. No one writes paper letters anymore. Think of what we know about history from diaries and letters. We love to read them, don’t we? We love the privacy of being allowed in to a certain era of life. Granted, I am not a famous musician, painter, or thinker, but my diaries do reflect growing up in a certain time and place, a valid historical document.
After much to and fro, I have decided to go the way of the Vikings, the Romans, the Hindus, the Sikhs: onto the pyre in a ceremonial rite. The garbage bin was never an option; my diaries are not trash. Rather, they will be sacred words set free into eternity.
By burning these papers, I will honor the meditative goal of life: to live truly in the present. I will still keep writing a diary because it is how I live. But I won’t carry it across town or across the ocean in a box.
Do you keep a diary? Have you considered what to do with them?
P.S If you have any compelling reason why I shouldn’t burn my diaries, speak now (in the box below), or forever hold your peace/piece!
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