The Most Important Thing Is To Write It Down
A perfectly avoidable failure in common experience
It was while writing a Diary that I discovered how to capture the living moments. Keeping a Diary all my life helped me to discover some basic elements essential to the vitality of writing.
— Anaïs Nin, as quoted in Famous Writers on Keeping a Diary
Moments. As airy as it sounds, there is nothing so ephemeral and yet so permanent as moments. Although each lasts for an indefinite, relatively short period of time, all there is in our lives are moments. A memory is simply a string of moments we’ve recorded through the neurons of our mind. We recall these in a mostly-subconsious mapping to time, and exploit them by isolating and extrapolating on them. This is how we write histories, pen documentation, and attempt to bring vibrance to living ideas, both in the observable, the existential, and the irrational. We all, obviously enough, experience moments, and when we share them we’re simply attaching symbolism (words) to recognition (mind’s comprehension of language) to a fuzzy recollection of these moments (neurons translated by brain machinery).
Each of these moments, however obsolete or bizarre they may seem when lived through or found out about, I believe is equally important. Each moment, for its complete duration, was all of existence for the beholder. When an unborn boy sits in the womb, at that moment, what may eventually become the greatest scientist of the century, is simply a fetus. At that moment, all there is for that ever-growing light of humanity is the warm home of the mother, and the minute influence of the external world. What the boy learns in that state is equally important to his first steps, his first words, and his first works. Even though some may value certain types of knowledge greater than others, all knowledge can be retained, and all knowledge can be valuable. All observation has rationale, and all rationale is preceded by more intricate rational, and is explicable to those able to understand. What we’ve learned from millennia of thought is that nature is observable, and all possible perceptions of nature should not be neglected.
If all moments are equally valuable, then, and have unavoidable merit, in both value and simply in existence — being that every moment is all of experience for the beholder, and no less experiential than the most important lesson the beholder will be taught — why do we value the memories of them differently? Why do we arbitrarily assign worth to the artfulness of a certain expression — articulation of moment (and self) — when it’s only the craftsmanship which is unfamiliar or unpleasant to us?
be creative when no one is watching
— Kyle Ryan, via Twitter
That’s why the most important thing I’ve learned, and damn well had to teach to myself, is to write it down. Whatever you define it to be, all knowledge can produce wisdom through analysis and inquisition. But no moment can be remembered if not written down. Our inclination to avoid permanence for these ephemeral things is not based on an inherit property of them — they truly are permanent, however flitting they may seem. It is only the barricade of society, of judgment, that prevents us from sharing our penmanship. The skill we inevitably attain through age will always have to be applied to the knowledge we attain alongside. That means, if we do not write down and allow reflection over the ideas we have before our acknowledged skill, they will never have a chance to be ruminated on. These moments will never have a chance to be remembered, and not due to any good reason. And, as aforementioned, if moments are all that is of the self, by not writing them down we are committing a severe injustice to ourselves.
Better to write for yourself and have no public, than write for the public and have no self.
— Cyril Connolly, as quoted on Twitter
Ironically enough, recording them skillfully in any modern form (song, art, design, development) requires practice anyhow. It’s simply the common structure of academia that seems to value the results of learning over both learning and unique, unbounded expression of that learning. Don’t entrap yourself in the system, only performing that which is required and judged without danger, if you wish to impact change in ways that transcend current status and the properties of your only recorded moments.
Suffice it to say, this won’t be the last you hear from me.
What sort of diary should I like mine to be? Something loose-knit and yet not slovenly, so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful, that comes into my mind. I should like it to resemble some deep old desk or capacious hold-all, in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking them through. I should like to come back, after a year or two, and find that the collection had sorted itself and refined itself and coalesced, as such deposits so mysteriously do, into a mould, transparent enough to reflect the light of our life, and yet steady, tranquil compounds with the aloofness of a work of art. The main requisite, I think, on reading my old volumes, is not to play the part of a censor, but to write as the mood comes or of anything whatever; since I was curious to find how I went for things put in haphazard, and found the significance to lie where I never saw it at the time.
— Virginia Woolf, A Writer’s Diary
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The best board in a cabinet is the one in the very back. The best poem is the one you write for yourself and throw to the wind. Don’t think: write, create, breath.