One of the many benefits of keeping a journal is that it serves as a history book. Although, history books written by those who lived through it aren’t the most reliable accounts, since they are inherently biased, they are useful in other ways. For one, it allows you to realize how cyclical are the vicissitudes of life, and how wise and true are the words from Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.”
I was wondering recently how this blog would read ten years from now. Would I laugh to read how upset and worried I was about some news item from 2013 that ended up being nothing at all to worry about? Would I shake my head in astonishment at how much I fretted about inconsequential things? Would I wonder why I never mentioned other things that ended up being much more critical? As an experiment, I dug through my old journals and found entries from 2003, and 1993. Here’s what I found.
In 1993 I had two children less than seven years old, I worked a lot harder, never worried about politics, and seemed much more spiritually minded. My journal entries were mostly about the difficulties of being a parent, the wild and capricious nature of my business, and the daily struggles of being a Christian. I was much more connected to the church then through a Sunday school class and various Bible Study fellowships. The entries were less sarcastic, with less jaded opinion and more charity to my fellow man.
By 2003, my children were teenagers, and my every spare moment seemed to be consumed by the latest happenings in the youth group at Grove. My comments about work and the world seemed more anxious. The daily gyrations of the stock market were a subject of frustrated fascination, and I seemed much less interested in “the church”, and much more interested in “the kids”.
One thing that was consistent in both of these random years was that there were always things to worry about, and probably 90% of the things I feared the most ended up never happening, or if they did, the consequences proved to be much less catastrophic than I had feared. The biggest difference between today and my writings from ten and twenty years ago seems to be the fact that back then, I worried almost exclusively about things that directly affected me or my children. Now I tend to worry about larger, philosophical things, existential things, and political things much more than I ever did before. Maybe that’s because I’m not as worried about how my kids are going to turn out, they seem to have turned out quite well after all, so I have to worry about something else. Maybe things are worse now in the world, or maybe I’m so bombarded with news of how worse the world is that it consumes me more than it did twenty years ago before the internet and cable news.
The lesson I take from this experiment is that no matter where I am in life, there will always be things to worry about and almost none of them will end up coming to pass. Maybe all of us need to lighten up, and enjoy the day in front of us since it’s the only one we’ve got.