Saturday, July 4, 2020

Recording the details

As I look back on old diary entries, I wish I had spent more time recording the mundane details of my daily life and less analyzing every nuance of my angstier moments. I seem to recall the writer David Sedaris saying something similar about the journals he has kept.

One problem is that we're so familiar with life as it is today, we often think of it as boring and not worth recording. And then living through extraordinary times such as this pandemic, we may not want to dwell on the details. We may think we'll never forget them.

But even if COVID-19 permanently changes us, there will be details about this time that will grow hazy. Even if we end up covering our faces forever (and I hope we don't), will we remember what it was like to wear a mask for the first time? Will we recall the scramble to even find a mask, the experiments with old T-shirts and rubber bands? Will we forget the desperation over toilet paper? The evening cheers for frontline workers? The first person we knew with the virus, or the first symptoms in ourselves? Will we remember watching cases spread over maps with growing dread and fear? Will we remember how children played in yards for the first time in years, how they chalked the sidewalks with art? Will we remember the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd and so many others, the jolts of a country's long-delayed reckoning?

We may want to write these things down. Whether for catharsis or for some future researcher, or as a link to our own future selves. I find so much in my earlier writings that I otherwise would have forgotten.