A Gift for My Children
Something of permanence amid our ephemeral digital lives
Have you noticed how quickly life moves? It’s nearly impossible to capture the totality of the daily and weekly cadence of updates we make digitally, and the clock keeps moving forward.
Currently, we create approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. That’s 2,500,000,000,000,000,000 bites. And 90 percent of data that’s been created has occurred in the last two years.
Our digital musings are here one second, and gone in the next. It’s hard to keep track of your own content (even the stuff you maybe remember creating) when you try to search for it. Did I post that photo on Facebook? Or was it Twitter? No, wait — did I use Flickr? Or was it Photobucket? All of those bookmarks on del.icio.us? Gone.
The boards you create on Pinterest, the magazines you curate on Flipboard — even the blog you own and create — all of these will be a faded and forgotten part of your digital history, foggily known to you but completely nonexistent to your progeny.
At some level, we all want to be remembered. No one wants to live their life and feel like it didn’t matter. Whether you achieve something remarkable in your industry or raise an honorable family, you want your name to be in the minds and on the lips of future generations.
But with so much ephemeral digital effluvia, there’s no telling what will stick and what won’t, thanks to changing sensibilities, platform shifts, and more data.
With that in mind, when my first child was born — and for the subsequent two — I made a purchase that only grows in value each year. In addition to securing them their own domain names and Gmail addresses, I bought each of them a leather journal.
Each week, I spend some non-digital time writing to my kids in their journals.
Aside from writing in a leather journal with a fountain pen, I make time each week to step away from WiFi. Whether it’s reading or simply reflecting, I get recharged by creating moments of serenity and tranquility.
Serenity is a precious compound because it only exists in the present. It is fleeting. It is hard to capture in the imagination. It’s even more difficult to capture in daily motion.
Which brings us back to the journal.
I jot down thoughts, observations, and life advice. Maybe it’s something cute they said or a heart-to-heart conversation we had. It could be a passage from a book I was reading or an online article or quote that someone shared.
What are some sources of wisdom and advice that you’d recommend?
My goal is to create a customized handbook of life, with moments unique to each child and fundamentals that I duplicate across each journal. When they leave home, I’ll give them a journal filled with my handwritten notes.
Odds are they may think it’s a little corny or too sentimental when they’re 18 (or 22, or 25…). But this is a gift that they’ll grow to appreciate over time.
Who knows? Maybe they’ll start their own journals for their kids one day. If so, it’s a tradition that will catalog and curate our family values, and be a permanent record of how we lived while we were here.
If not, then at least the historians will be able to read some of my thoughts beyond Facebook, Medium and WordPress.