Can’t Google This

I’m a person who lives more in the moment. Diaries are for other people. I try to live it rather than record it. I think I’m wrong, at least at this point in my life.

Several threads have come together to nudge me in a different direction.

The first thread started when I learned of the Greek writer Thucydides’ history some 2,500 years ago. Briefly, he is considered as the first war correspondent. He wrote extensively about a war of over 2 decades. He set high standards for accuracy, objectivity and thoroughness.

The second thread was precipitated by the covid-19 and my free time I spent decluttering. I came across many letters from my parents, written to me. Some notes were actually from me, having been returned to me many years ago, as they decluttered. Some items even included cassettes – oral letters between us, as my parents adopted to cutting edge technology.

I found the minutia of daily life fascinating from over 70 years ago. One example was my Dad writing to me about the day of my arrival on earth. At supper time on that fateful day, they were tossing about names. They settled on Glenn as my first name and quickly agreed on my second name. All the to and fro behind the final selection was right there in print. Now, you can’t Google that kind of information. An hour late, Mom exclaimed that I was coming, and the ride, provided by a kind neighbour, got us to the hospital with an hour to spare.

I realized that as I read the many letters, my life would be less for not having these records of daily life. This family history of not only details of my life but also my parents’ views of what was important can’t be Googled. They are too personal. I was able to figuratively run along-side my Dad as he ran down the road to watch the small aircraft land in the field. The pilot jumped out and offered rides for a small fee—no air traffic control in view.

How could I begin to leave my children a similar treasure trove of minutia that they might not be interested in for another 25 years? I remember setting up my camera on a tripod in front of our black and white television to capture the first pictures of a person walking on the moon. The world came to a stop for a short time. We were allowed to bring a small tv into the classroom to watch the launch of this spectacular journey to our moon.

I have decided to set myself up for success as I knew I wouldn’t maintain a daily diary. But I could do monthly entries. This would capture the bigger non-Googleable (if that’s a word) happening. Unless the weather were horrific, there would be no temperatures, etc. That could be Googled.

The pandemic would undoubtedly be worthy of more than one entry. Social distancing, hand washing and toilet paper hoarding would start to capture the minutia of life.

Please give it a think. Try committing to a monthly entry into an official family record. Paper or electronic will work. Engage in conversation with those you love and love you. Ask them what they’d like to know about – then record your perspective. Can’t Google that.

My thanks to the CBC program, Ideas, for inspiring this Blog with the story of Thucydides.

My thanks to St. Albert Seniors Association: 780-459-0433 for making this Blog possible.

Glenn Walmsley