The Good Shit

You’re in a bar/pub/restaurant/eatery/coffee shop/prison/long bus journey talking to your friend/date/cellmate and the time seems right to tell a story. A really good story with lots of detail, plot twists, and amusing stories about carrots that have grown into rude and amusing shapes. Presumably you reach for your notebook/diary/journal to recount all the most important and best bits of the story, right? Nope. Never happens. Even if we have the technology i.e. our smartphone to hand, we wouldn’t reach for it at times like these. Why? Apart from the obvious stiltification of the flow of the moment, we just don’t need to. Why? Because oral history. For most of our time on planet earth us humans (I’m assuming you, the reader, is human or close to it; if you’re a dog, please get in touch, I have a business proposition) haven’t been able to write – we’ve had neither the skills, knowledge or materials (which we’ve acquired through skills and knowledge) to write anything down. We started scribbling on the walls of caves about 40,000 years ago but it took a while to really catch on (the pen – invented around 5000 years ago. The printing press – about 600 years ago) and we still do a pretty good line in oral story telling. Granted, with computers and particularly our little pocket digital friends we are getting fairly terrible at interacting with one another but at the most basic level, we’re still storytellers. Whether it’s relating the day’s events to our wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/cats or giving a knockout presentation to sell something/ourselves we tell stories, or at least we’d be best served if we did. Because, when it comes down to it, life is not about data, it’s not about spread sheets and files; yes, those things can be helpful if we want to be entirely factual (annual accounts is one example where an oral narrative might not hold much water with the tax man) but what really matters is the good shit. If you never wrote down another word for the rest of your days and somebody asked you to retell your life story from your deathbed, you wouldn’t be lost for words, you’d just tell them about the good stuff. So, this is the un-notebook. Don’t write anything down*, just let the good shit stick.

*Clearly you are reading the written word and therefore I have broken my own advice. All of this is caveated by creative writing and journaling are great. My beef is with instant or complete nostalgia where nothing is left to chance or foibles of memory.

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