Sometimes it seems to me that in an ideal world in which your work is what you do best and like best I would quite possibly be a librarian or an archivist. A job concerned with keeping written materials well organized, putting the emphasis on precision rather than on quickness…
The archivist trait in my mind expresses itself also in an obsession with archiving my own life. This has always put some strain on me as there are two extremes, each of them with a desirable aim but going straight against the other. Ideally, I would like to have every single minute (even every passing thought) of my life archived somehow so I could look it up in future. Ideally, too, I would like to live to the full, not wasting a single minute of my time by recording life rather than living it.
Another problem is keeping one’s records so as to be able to find a specific information. It’s easy enough to look up whether anything important happened on a particular day. In the opposite direction it’s still fairly easy to look up, say, in which year I went on this or that trip, I’m not travelling very often. It’s far trickier to ascertain, for example, when I read such-and-such book, or when I read it for the first time, let alone how many times I’ve read one of my favourites. (It’s somewhat easier using a text editor, but of course, most of my records have been done before I’ve got a laptop.)
I wrote here in January that I had at least managed, after years, to edit all the diaries, notes, memos &c I’d gathered throughout the first twenty-four years of my life into a single, chronologically linear, story, and throw away lots of papers and mementoes whose sentimental and/or documentary value didn’t justify the space they took. That there’s a good chance to treat the following fourteen years more quickly. Nevertheless, the problem of how much time to spend on recording my current life remains.
So far, I’ve learned to keep only those letters (not necessarily emails) and other written or printed items I surely might want to look up again one day. I almost never come by any other (ie non-paper-ish) mementoes I would find it hard to part with. I’m trying to make my daily diary entries as concise as possible, though I’m still usually failing in this effort, and my weekly summaries even more so. But a new problem arised with this website.
The question is always the same: Is this worth writing about? It would be fun – but would doing something else be more fun? Will I – or anybody else – care to read it after it’s written? There’s hardly a week during which at least eight things I’d like to write about don’t occur – but if I did, some of them wouldn’t have time to happen at all, if you take my meaning.
So I’m trying to learn to be easy-going about it. Writing about those things that are absolutely most important for me, and treating the others analogously to the books I’d like to read, posts I’d like to comment on, films I’d like to watch, songs I’d like to listen to, information I’d like to look up… That is to say, writing when I’ve got the time, am in the mood for it, and there’s no distinctly better way of spending my leisure hours – and if I fail to describe some happening or express some opinion, just being content with having experienced the former or contemplated the latter.
The best (or indeed, the only reasonable) solution to the “I can only do so much and there’s so much to do” syndrome is doing as much as you can without getting overwrought with it, being glad about what you’ve done and easy about what you haven’t.
It’s certainly not easy to put this theory into practice but.