A few years ago, I went to an exhibition called “The Augustus Griffin Diaries, 1790-1855.” It was organized by the Oysterponds Historical Society, out on the East End of Long Island. The exhibition included his diaries and artifacts from his lifetime–clothing, fishing gear, quill pens, inkwells, Bibles, a desk, farming implements, photographs. It was a wonderful exhibit, and filled me with appreciation on how one person’s story gives us such an intimate look into history.
Born in Orient, NY in 1767, Augustus Griffin lived to be 99 years old. He documented day-to-day life in his diaries. He reminisced about his boyhood memory of his father jumping out of the window into the snow to avoid capture by British soldiers and Tories. Griffin shared his doubts about his ability to hold a steady job and make a living; his moral turmoil as a tavern owner about selling alcohol. He also chronicled events large and small in the town–marriages, births, deaths, accidents–the results of which can be found in the graveyards and mailboxes 145 years after his death. “If it weren’t for him, many people wouldn’t know their lineage and history,” said Ellen Cone Busch, director of the Oysterponds Historical Society. “He had a keen sense of how fast life goes by, how temporary life is – and if we don’t write it down, it will be gone forever.”
I would like to start a daily diary to note each day in the year I turn sixty – 2012. My question to diary and journal keepers out there – how do you stick to it? The other area where I need some guidance is – what do you write about every day? I was thinking of just writing the first thing that pops into my mind to keep it spontaneous, and take the pressure off from trying to sound elegant or profound. As I think about it, I am almost afraid of how I will sound to myself.
Advice appreciated! Thank you!