There’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. What is it exactly? I’ve been thinking about documentation and how we document our lives. More striking, I’ve been thinking about human inability to properly and/or fully document life as we live it.
It’s an interesting idea is it not? Think about it. We spend much of our lives thinking about how to create evidence that we exist and create change. Many of us are reliant on pictures to do this, myself included. Photographs have become a reminders, whether for others or ourselves, of our life experiences.
In the world today, we rely on an immediacy of some kind to document. We rely on photographs, video, writing, second-hand experiences, physical evidence of an occurrence, etc. Anything which captures the experience of a life moment in its rawness, we are drawn to.
Take myself for example. I am a blogger, but I use my blog to document my life. I post about my life experiences and I use pictures to support it. But think about the use of my blog on its own. I record my own life experiences in one place, through whatever means necessary (be it photos, words, etc.)
Why do I do this? Well, I do it because I want to remember my life. I want to have reference to a time and place that I existed when memory fails me. Documentation is my way of doing this and I document in my own way.
But something strikes me more so about documenting life, and that is the part of human documentation which is often forgotten. Humans are unreliable banks recall. We definitely have enough brain space to store memories, experiences, whatever; however, at what mercies are we to properly and fully recall them?
The sad fact is, we cannot remember everything and therefore, we cannot document everything. For me, this is startling. It’s especially startling because blogging, becoming a blogger, made me want to document my life. And I strive to do so but I am only human.
I cannot remember to have some way of documenting myself all of the time in the moment which I wish to document. I take pictures but I am not always taking them. I record video but video does not tell the full story. I write words but the thoughts which primed them are not always present.
And this present another problem with documentation, which is the choice of what is most important—what we chose to document and what we don’t. I am one for documenting everything because I appreciate full experiences (which means acknowledging good and bad) but I can only do so much.
Therefore, I must make a choice. In being away from my blog for so long, many things have happened in my life. But I cannot remember it all in one sitting, and hardly over multiple sittings without a reminder. All that I wish to tell, to record, to document, can only be documented from what I remember when my documentation device was absent in the moment in question.
This is why human documentation is flawed in this effort. I can only remember so much, recall it when it actually comes to me, and find time to convey it to the public (and myself.) So what does one do about this problem?
Well, I’ve acknowledged that gaps don’t exist in life. Things don’t suddenly go blank and then come back but we do remember the important things, or things which seem important. That’s where I’m at right now. I am only remembering the important things.
I want to tell all of the important things but I cannot recall them all at once. And I know that the longer I push away a memory, the more it fades. Therefore, I must make a choice: which memories will get published first? My decision too, shapes what will get recorded in permanence and what will not. My decision will affect what I can remember at later dates when the memory has become reliant on the reminder.
For me, this problem is one which I have yet to deal with. After setting up this blog, I realized how important documenting my own life became. Therefore, I was diligent. Now that I have fallen of the bandwagon and need to climb back on, I am finding gaps in my experiences. I can’t have it all. But I can only get close if I remain diligent.
I suppose what I wanted to say most was that human documentation of life is flawed. It’s imperfect in capturing an experience, a moment. And we have become reliant on immediate documents (photos, video, etc.) to recall experience for us. In fact, we rely on it so much that our own memories are weakening (or perhaps just mine.)
So in a sense, I have failed. But, I am getting back on my feet for sure. I will keep documenting. But I will still feel the sting of a missing piece to my own life puzzle.
How do you document your own life experiences? What are your thoughts about documenting as much as humanly possible, regardless of error? Leave all your thoughts below!