For the last 25 years, I have written a page-a-day diary. I started in 1987 at age 15. It’s now 2012, I’m 40 and it seems entirely reasonable to give it up. I tried to write a special last entry on New Year’s Eve, but it’s not easy to find a common thread. At age 15, I would never have predicted the form of my life to date. Yeah, I have a job, and I’m married with a child. But anyone could predict that: it may not happen quite like that to most men (I don’t know one way or the other), but it surely happens to a significant fraction.
I certainly didn’t imagine being in research/academia. And yet my intellectual life over those 25 years has been utterly dominated by computer science, starting in 1990. I think most 15 year olds have a pretty limited view of what the adult world is really like, and a pretty limited idea about the really vast number of possible directions a life can take. After all, they probably don’t have that many adult lives to observe at close hand.
Given all that, I instead ended up musing a bit on just what I was going to do with all the extra time I was going to get each evening. For example, I might try to transcribe all those handwritten pages so that I’d have an electronic, searchable form of the diaries. But yikes, talk about tedious. Another option might be to write more blog entries, starting with one all about not writing diary entries.
The way I approached it, the diary really was a never-ending obligation. If I fell behind one day (I did go out in the evening sometimes), I’d just have to make that up with two entries later on. Simply skipping a day just wasn’t on. And I managed it too! But really, to what end? I only very occasionally looked at my diaries again, and the majority of the entries really were very dull. I’m glad I have some entries of course (getting married, having a child), but these events happened on easy to remember days. Finding the other nuggets in there is a pretty unappealing prospect.
Even over the last two days I have caught myself thinking, “Oh, I should make sure that gets into the diary” only to think with a start that it isn’t going to get written down by me now! That is almost a painful feeling, but it is also a good indication that I was seeing life as something to be led in order to fill up the day’s page.
On top of blog writing, I should get even more time to read (for pleasure and work), to play games, and to do “fun work” things like my HOL4 mechanisations of whatever maths has taken my fancy. And that is all to the good!