Every man is his own ancestor, and every man his own heir. He devises his own fortune, and he inherits his own past.
– Francis Herbert Hedge
Speaking of reading, I’ve spent an inordinate time today on GoodReads.com adding books and writing mini reviews. A sucker for metrics that tell me what percent I am away from completing a profile, I’ve been rating like it’s my job. (Consequently, if this is a job, someone please tell me.)
At one point, I started asking myself why I cared.
This is a website the the soul purpose of collecting my reading information and connecting me to other readers. I don’t need a site for that. I have friends and family for that.
In a moment of neo-luditiousness, I turned against the tech and showed signs of resentment toward my digital footprint.
Then my mom read an entry of her journal.
She journals every day, my mom. (The apple and it’s post-fall distance from the tree, right?)
It’s been made clear that, when my mom is gone, her journals are to go to her best friend, my godmother.
There’s something I like about the idea of pieces of my mom, her memories and documentation of her interactions with the world continuing on.
In between assigning stars and jotting thoughts on tomes I’ve read, I listened as my mom read an entry from her journal of the past year. For that moment, who my mom was in the past, the not-so-distant past, was present again.
The moment made clear why I might care about keeping a journal of the books I’m reading, my evaluation of them, and thoughts through the pages. They will be the bread crumbs of my past for those who come after me.
I have no knowledge, and he probably has no memory, of the books my dad read in his late 20s and early 30s. I don’t know the thoughts with which he was playing or how they influenced the person he was to become.
For my children and grandchildren, the things I create today, hopefully, will serve as a map to who I was – to who they will become.
In some ways, the pieces of me on Facebook, Myspace, and Friendster will serve as the personnel files of my life. The memories I curate on GoodReads and here, though, will be the journal of me and tell the story of how I met the world.
I often wish I knew more about my great-grandfathers. One died before I was born, and the other died when I was young. Each photo or story shared at family gatherings is jotted down in my memory and stored in the file in my brain marked, “Where you come from.” I hope my digital footprint will be a clearer, if imperfect, file for those who come after me.