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Better people than me have gone through life without writing…

More and more, I feel I have to record what I’ve done – weekend outings, travel, meals and so on – in my journal or elsewhere. Otherwise, it’s as if they haven’t happened. If I don’t get the words down, the memories will disappear like confetti in the wind. Writing makes what I’ve done more real, and permanent.

But maybe the doing is the only important thing, and all the recording is mere housekeeping. This thought lodged itself in my mind when I read a Spectator piece about a new biography of Galen, the celebrated doctor of the Roman Empire, filled scrolls of papyri with his wisdom. The reviewer contrasts him to Christ and Socrates who were both “too busy doing stuff to sit down and describe it.”

I write things down, so there’s a least a fighting chance that something of my output will last longer than my physical existence. But in the long run posterity’s bouncer will have no place for me on his exclusive list. My name will not make it into a holy book, nor be adopted by a religion. No thoughts of mine will be discussed in university faculties and philosophical monographs the world over.

I don’t think I’m being falsely modest when I say my achievements fall short of Christ’s and Socrates’. I’ll admit, too, that the written word, so important to my world, made not an iota of difference to their lives as they actually lived them. Their actions, characters and spoken words were so compelling that others have done the writing for them.

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