Of all the journals I’ve written in (and there are now something around seventeen), the hardest entry was always the first. The first entry sets the tone for the entire thing: if you begin a diary with a misrepresentation, you devote the next three hundred pages to repairing that misrepresentation – and still, it just never feels right. You catch yourself falling back into it over and over again. “Since when am I so melodramatic?” you may wonder. “Ah yes. It all began on that page, back in 2002. God damn it.” The first impression. The thesis. I’d spent the last two years falling back into bad habits, explaining myself away, and then returning to bad habits – and I was not about to commit to an error again. When I wrote the first entry in my new diary two weeks ago, I reread it, tore it out of the book and threw it away.
“No,” I thought. “That is not how I want to continue.”
And so I waited two weeks and then wrote my favorite first entry ever.
Dear Future Self,
So another page begins, with the age-old questions “why bother” and “do I still have it, has something been lost.” I have two answers for you. One, because it makes you happiest. Two, the only thing that has been lost is this realization. There. Now remember these things.
I was bundled in five layers of wool, a bright orange pom pom hat, and black gloves, and I was sitting at the end of a dock in the middle of the stillest lake in the world, VT. It had just seemed like a good time to sneak away and be alone for a moment, and as my nose dripped onto my crossed legs and suddenly removed me from the page, I started. “Well for Christ’s sake,” I thought, skimming over what I’d just written. “That’s only what I’ve been trying to figure out for the past five years.”