Quick—what was the date of your son’s first day of playgroup 25 years ago? When in 1993 did you go to the dentist? Do you know if 2000 was the year you went to the family reunion in Virginia?
Didn’t think so.
Ah, but I know these dates in my life. You see, I took notes.
I kept these records religiously for so long that it is a real pity I gave up.
After the Hallmark era, I had begun my job at church, and bought those annual day planners. These entries reflected only my professional life, but still they were useful for recalling specific moments in time. I can flip through and bring my fun-filled trip to the synod assembly in ’06 right back. Not that I necessarily want to, mind you…
We still keep a wall calendar in the kitchen, but these notations are spotty at best (PJ 3-5 w Z, Rose Dr. L. 2:40, buy coffee!!) and sometimes whole months go by and no one writes anything down. These are the months when we miss the birthday parties and book club meetings, because no one in the house can remember that well.
A few weeks ago I was up in the attic and came upon a set of journals I wrote when Steve and I were on the road on our first children’s theatre tour of the Northeast, beginning in Ticonderoga NY in January of 1979.The days were busy, but the nights afforded enough time to scribble the tales of our shows and travels in minute detail. I was a regular Samuel Pepys, or his modern day equivalent, Ned Rorem! Alas, this stint in our lives, scintillating to us as it was at the time, would never crack the NYT bestseller list.
When floods and fires and tornadoes strike, I watch TV footage of families who have lost everything, including their scrapbooks and diaries and calendars. The keenest memory cannot begin to recapture the full story of them—which is why you see folks sifting through the ruins desperately for any trace of their history, and why it is such a sad and poignant sight.
Unless we prove to be famous in some way, few will value our dates and times and places in the future. So why bother?
Because it does matter. My time here matters to me. And I need some prompting to keep it all in mind.