Introspection seems to have become a new “old” thing for me now that I’m an Islander and living a very different pace of life. I guess it is because while I find my days full, it’s a very different level of activity and pressure than what I was used to in Southern Ontario. The girls are away at school and while I try to connect with them via a variety of apps and digital means each day, I have more alone time than I’ve ever had before. Angus and I spend most of our days together and we are developing a small circle of friends and I love that. Still, there is more time for reflection in my days, rather than just flying through them and wondering “what happened” later. That said, I am still neglectful in my efforts to “blog” each day and some days I just don’t feel that creative flow that lends itself to writing.
It reminds me of the first diary I ‘kept in the summer of Grade 7. It was, I thought, a tremendously special one because it had a key which I considered to be iron clad in its’ security (though I am sure an inquisitive chimpanzee might have opened in seconds) In confidence and trust that my words would be forever sacred, I poured out my deepest thoughts for an eternity (about three months) on those pages. My deepest crushes on oblivious boys I publicly professed to despise, my desperate want of a new hairstyle just like Farrah Fawcett and how I intended to earn enough money babysitting to get it, my fears about school and , my irritations with my family and my black and white observations and attitudes about the world (which are now decidely more grey). There was also my birthday wish to have a corduroy blazer with patches on the elbows and a Sweet Baby Jane blouse to go with it but most especially a pink bra like my friend Nancy had. Then I had a sleepover party for my birthday at the end of August with a bunch of girls. One of them discovered my diary and immediately broke the lock and started reading aloud from it. I was humiliated and embarrassed that my private thoughts were being spilled out like that. Worse than that, I had written unkind things about one of the girls who was there at the party weeks earlier. I leapt’ across the room and snatched it out of the offending girls hands before that part was read but remember feeling guilty and awful about what I had said for the rest of the party. I decided I wouldn’t write anything down about my private thoughts ever again and it wasn’t until University that I began to journal again.
I had a much-loved Professor who absolutely hated the philosophy of exams and grades. He was convinced that accurate representations of a students’ grasp of a subject could not be represented in exams that might weigh 50% or more towards their final grade. “Everybody”, he argued,” has bad days. One bad day cannot dictate or identify a lifetime of learning.” To avoid this as much as possible, he gave us all an individual contract at the start of the year. It allowed for us to choose the number of assignments we wished to do according to the Grade we wished to achieve and the the final exam was weighted at only 20%, the lowest the University would allow. There was a list of 30 or 40 possibilities and if, for instance, you wanted a B, you might have to do 20 of them. My friend and I declared ourselves to be on the A team. One of our assignments was to write our autobiographies. No word limit, no guidelines, just write your personal story . My friend wrote ten pages and declared herself done. I was astonished as I thought she had so much to explain about her life, which in my estimation was far more interesting than mine had been to that point. I in turn started writing and basically couldn’t stop until I delivered, with great trepidation, my final draft of 253 pages. He instructed us to deliver them in sealed brown packages with our initials signed on the tape and assured us of complete confidentiality, telling us our work would be returned at the end of the term. The last question on the final exam was ” Based on what you signed your contract for and what you delivered, what do you think your final mark should be ?” As we left the exam hall he stood at the doors and handed back the autobiographies with a smile. Not one seal had been broken. I looked at him in astonishment as he handed mine back and he smiled and said ” it was always and only just for you .”Every single person in that class received the mark they wrote down in response to that final question. I don’t think anyone asked for a higher mark than they actually did deserve either, that was a measure of the respect we all felt for him. Best Professor ever !
So here I am, all these years later and writing again. I am no longer that insecure young girl so afraid to let others know what I’m really thinking and feeling. I know my daughters have over the years been aghast at my forthrightness with people, strangers and friends alike. I think that a certain honesty with oneself comes with age and certainly a open-ness to share more of yourself with others. So I will try to keep writing and not bore anyone to death with my musings. Basically I’ve been blogging for years in a less official fashion on
Facebook, in letters I send and in my conversations. I like to share and hope my friends will always share back. It’s been a busier than usual past few weeks but I will again try to put pen to paper ( well fingers to keyboard ) more than I have of late.