Back to a Shrine, Online…

My passion for biography waned years ago, particularly regarding this True Life project. It’s like a form of burnout, and was probably because of a number of factors:

  • In discussing the past with my sister, I was reminded of terrible times, and instead of seeing them objectively, like a reporter, I felt them viscerally. I had not really let myself feel them the first time around, and I became angry at Dad all over again.
  • I was happier in my present, and found myself less interested in discussing my past. I didn’t feel as special either, because I’d learned that my suffering was minimal compared to some. I didn’t need to get attention from telling my story. I didn’t even want my colleagues to know much about it. I was receding a little…
  • The novelty of writing – the excitement of calling myself a writer, and exploring the artform – had been lost. Been there, done that (or so I felt).

So over the past few years, the only writing I’ve done has been occasional journaling, or bits of short-form poetry online in Facebook, and a couple of brief short stories featuring my proxy, Jack Owen.

But…

A recent Google search on my own name (ego, thy name is John) led me to searching for my parent’s names, and then an old feeling started to resurface: I’m trying to keep them alive.

In fact, I want to read about their story myself! I truly believe that the Internet is my go-to global memory, even as an extension of my own memory. Maybe I want to keep them “alive” online as a way to reconnect with them. It’s like visiting a gravesite. The stone is still there and will stand the test of time. Funny how the ephemeral Internet feels permanent to me. It’s a place where I can preserve the pieces I have. One day, I will forget things – I will lose the last of it. Some of my web pages might outlive me though. Maybe.

As angry as I am at my Dad even 30 years later, I don’t want his name to disappear. He burnt bridges more than he’d ever have admitted, but he doesn’t deserve to disappear. My Mum died alone and largely forgotten in Riverview. How will she be remembered? By web-shrining their memories, how will I be remembered? Will I finally be the good son who kept the memories together, who tended the garden that they abandoned? I have no idea, but apparently the need hasn’t left me yet.

In my online personal and professional life, I use Google like a mental scrapbook, a photo album, a repository. I started putting images and stories about them online in 1998, and I told myself a web-based shrine would help me to remember their stories as time passed and experience faded in narrative.

I think I’ve just felt the fear of forgetting tap me on the shoulder. I’m still the only one who can tell my story the way it needs to be told.

I should back at it now…

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