Object in the Rearview Mirror

Objects in the rearview mirror may appear closer than they are.

I feel like the warning works better this way.  I cannot speak for every other profession, but in my realm, the one unavoidable tool of the trade is a notebook.  I’ve been filling them up with stories, fiction and non, since I was a junior in high school. I’ve captured almost everything, and over decades my process has improved.

Why bring this up?

Because those notebooks hold the truth, or at least the biased accounts of an uninitiated cub reporter, but there are enough untouched facts beneath the commentary to get to the truth.  Those notebooks have taught me that I am wrong as often as I am correct about how I remember certain things. 

I’ve given lines of dialogue to people who died years before the memory. I’ve put other people in places they’ve never been.  These organic hard drives are broken right out of the factory.

But aside from just giving me tape to check in the replay booth, these notebooks give me perspective. They force me to realize that some of the stuff in the Recent Files list doesn’t belong there, and is only still there because I stubbornly keep opening the file. 

That was one year ago. Or five. Or ten.

These are things of a different era, experiences of an entirely different person than this one. Much, much farther away than all my senses continually tell me.

We should capture what we can, however we can.   

It keeps us honest. It can squelch some of our current anxiety over things in our past, and it can keep us from being the guy in the bar from Springsteen’s Glory Days, too.

Rear view mirrors are great as long as you remember that everything you’re seeing is backwards, distorted, and likely appears far closer than it actually is.

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