diary keeping and other trivial (dis)obedience: i

this was my mid-day stream of consciousness

Yesterday I bought myself a 5-year diary book. I really wanted it because it had a different question for every day of the year, so on May 7 2018, i can see how i answered the same question on May 7 2017.

I was very excited to commit to something, and I knew that it wasn’t going to be too hard for me- it’s not the first time I am keeping a diary, and for this 5-year journal, you only have to write a short answer every day.

However, I was slightly disappointed by my actual first question: “When was the last party you went to?”.  Before, I thought that the date was May 8, and the corresponding question was “Who do you think is cute?” So not only was I dragged two days back by reality, I also had to answer a question that, quite frankly, I don’t have an answer for…

frida kahlo

That led me to think about the question: while writing and reading a diary gives us the liberty to relive moments, does it also tie us down to only certain snippets? Are we always confined by the prompts, the mood of the moment, and whether or not we feel up to describing things in detail? 

Diary-keeping is the art of preserving moments. Or perhaps, more accurately, it’s the endeavour of capturing general feelings. It is a great habit to have, because it allows us to have something to hold onto, in the non-stop flow of time. It’s almost like rebellion against the passing of time: by chronicling your everyday life, you drop pebbles on the riverbed that don’t get washed away, at least for a while.

Diary-keeping isn’t the only thing we do that enables a small disobedience against time. In fact, we do all sorts of things to capture moments, and many craft time capsules on a daily basis: writing, drawing, painting, photography, videography, composing music, social media (though social media is more for other’s sake, not for oneself…).

However, two question that I have about all these endeavours of “trivial disobedience” are: Are they effective in helping us relive moments? Do they affect how we live our present moments?


We chronicle our life through words, visuals and music, so that we wouldn’t forget certain things. However, one could argue that capturing a moment takes more than a couple minutes before bed, which is what people usually put into diary-keeping. A moment is scents, faces, sounds and what one felt on the inside. One needs to be quite ambitious to capture all these in a quick piece of writing, drawing, photography or music. Narrowing down our subject back to diary keeping, what does a journal entry really capture? Few people meticulously describe every detail. Usually, people write down general feelings, what they did during the day, and perhaps delve into one or two anecdotes. Needless to say, it is immensely beneficial for mental hygiene and combing through one’s own thoughts. The question is, does this help bring back moments when one revisits these entries? Do journal entries always pop off the page and evoke magical moments?

Oftentimes, rereading journal entries conjure general sentiments, rather than precise moments. The same goes for photos and music. When I see a photo of me with long hair, I think about my sweet and somewhat awkward grade 9 year. When I hear a song from Kinky Boots, I remember the days when I first discovered musical theatre. These attempts of trivial disobedience have their limitations: they work as guides, never a portal that fully allows us to relive certain moments.

But maybe that’s the thing: it’s never possible to relive moments. There is a reason that the common theory in fiction is that when you time-travel, you mustn’t let your old self see you.

Now onto the second question: do our missions to capture moments affect how we enjoy present moments? In other words, is the desire to capture certain things ever a burden?


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