I couldn’t blog for more than a year. I last posted on May 30 last year – a piece about Alan Rusbridger, the former Guardian editor – before resuming last Saturday, on June 18, when as an old Beatles fan I had to write something on Paul McCartney’s birthday. The old boy turned 74. Wow, how time flies!
Twelve months have passed unrecorded on this blog. Twelve months when I couldn’t read or write anything at length because of what was happening in my life.
I couldn’t blog but I was writing on the fly. A sentence here, a few lines there, whenever I could, wherever I could, at the airport, at the hospital, sitting down with a cup of coffee at a relatively empty food court after the lunch hour rush.
I wasn’t lugging my laptop. But I could write on my phone. The phone could be my journal. I only had to tap on one of the apps on the screen and a page would open. The date and time would automatically appear on the empty page and by the time I had finished writing, the location and the weather might also be automatically added to the entry if I wanted.
Welcome to apps that are journals to chronicle your life. Apps like Diaro and Journey. Day One is possibly the most praised journal app, but it’s available only for iPhones, iPads and Macs, not for Android and Windows. Journey, from the Singapore-based Two App Studio, is the Google Play editors’ choice for Android phones. It’s available online also like Diaro and Penzu, both of which can be downloaded on phones as well. They are all good and useful. You can search through them, insert pictures in them, tag them. Day One, Journey and Diaro also automatically add the location and weather if you like. And, of course, you can keep them private.
You can keep a journal or a diary on Evernote and OneNote as well. And let’s not forget WordPress. Blogs on WordPress.com can be completely private.
“I never travel without my diary,” says Gwendolen in Oscar Wilde’s play, The Importance of Being Earnest. “One should always have something sensational to read in the train,” she tells Cecily.
It is an amusing scene. Cecily shows Gwendolen her diary to prove Ernest proposed to her 10 minutes ago. Gwendolen responds by producing her own diary to show Ernest proposed to her the day before.
Journals can be more than a record of what’s happening in one’s life. Like commonplace books, they may include extracts from other writers, meditations, musings and more. “Journaling”, as some call it, is said to clear the mind, providing an outlet for thoughts and emotions.
Diaries and journals can certainly be a retrospective of your life, recording things before they fade away from memory. The past is never past recall if recorded in a diary. It’s the perfect preservative.
I may not be able to blog frequently again because of what’s been happening in my life. But it’s good that the phone can be my journal where I can write on the fly. For then I can replay yesterday once more.
It may of no interest to others what I did or thought on a particular day. But, “oh”, to quote Wordsworth, “The difference to me!”
Here’s the complete poem.
She Dwelt Among The Untrodden Ways
By William Wordsworth
She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love:
A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye!
—Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.
She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
The difference to me!
Somehow, this poem about an unknown maid who has died and her heartbroken lover captures the nature of a diary or a journal — private, personal and very precious to the diarist or the author of the journal. It is the only record most of us are likely to have of our lives, lived in the shadows, far from the spotlight, pursued by no biographer or journalist.