Within the last month, life has changed in ways both large and small. What used to be a few news stories here and there about a new virus infecting people halfway across the world is now a global pandemic. Something as simple as visiting a friend, going to the playground with our kids, or even shopping for groceries is now fraught—or impossible. Every day brings new worries, new precautions to take, and new information.
It’s all too easy to let these events go by in a haze of stress and worry. Already, many of us are reporting a warped sense of time, professing shock over how little time has actually passed by. Was it really only March 11th that the World Health Organisation declared this a pandemic? Was it really only January when U.S. news outlets started reporting on the coronavirus?
Keeping a journal, one in which you write down details of what is happening, can make sense of these changes, while creating a lasting record for posterity.
Eventually, this pandemic will be brought under control—we will one day have a vaccine and a comprehensive set of treatments. Even then, life will probably never return to exactly what it was before this started. History will be divided into the time before the pandemic and the time after.
In the future, we will want to look back and reflect on this time. We will want to pass these lessons on to the next generation. To do this, start by keeping a record of what is happening.
Keep journaling simple and easy
If you are going to compose a journal of these times, make it something easy to do. If a journal becomes onerous, it does not work. You do not have to write or do things for the journal every day. Keep your writing and composing close by, so you can jot things down to return to them later.
Note details, engage the senses
Details can be as simple as noting conversations with neighbours, or details about your neighbourhood, or an accounting of how your work day or work habits have changed. These details need not be explicitly connected to the pandemic, but instead can just be little details about your day-to-day life. When describing, it’s often good to try and engage all of the different senses. Is the air a little lighter, now that fewer cars are clogging up the road? What about the changes in ambient noise, now that everyone is home all the time? When it comes to your neighbourhood, how are people using the space differently?
Given the blur of everything that is happening, even the smallest of details can have meaning and spark valuable memories years down the road.
Make a plan for long-term storage
How you record these details, whether in a formal journal, a plain composition book, or digitally, will vary depending on your own resources and preferences. There are formal systems, like the Bullet Journal method. Or journaling can be as simple as buying a marbled black and white composition notebook, and writing down brief jottings here and there, along with the date. Journaling could also involve apps, or even expand to a blog, depending on your own comfort level.
Whatever format you use, just make sure that you have a plan for storing it long-term. When all of this is over, you’ll want to revisit these journals again.