I really don't need to shy away from intense emotions. That's a relief!

So, what's my excuse this time for not writing for three days? Too much to do again? Too much to process? I have been tempted. The temptation runs roughly like this: there are so many new things, so many rich experiences, that – I'm tempted to think – of course either I don't have time to write anything, or my mind is so much taken up with processing new things that I can't be expected to write anything in a journal.

Now, what were all those things I was doing for three days? Ah yes…

  1. Writing up ideas for a panel discussion for ECSCW 2021, which Revathi suggested
  2. Attending an old school-friend's zoom birthday party, with some difficult emotional repercussions
  3. Having a great conversation with a daughter
  4. Talking with work colleagues
  5. Revising my basic knowledge of Sociocracy through the very helpful introductory video
  6. Going to a strangely unsatisfactory network meeting
  7. Looking at The Workshop on Governing Knowledge Commons, with no joy
  8. Having an excellent conversation with Dil Green who has kindly commented on a past entry. Among other things, we explored the similarities and differences between money and information
  9. Via Dil, rediscovering HackMD and playing with that, thinking about its potential as a collaborative wiki system
  10. Having another inspiring conversation with Revathi, talking over that conference panel proposal, and also being led on from HackMD to HedgeDoc
  11. Attending a meeting of the currently informal team of the Collaborative Technology Alliance.

All this to the backdrop of a lovely February heat-wave, and getting outside to work a little in the garden.

There is no obvious simple theme running through all these doings. Can I justify not writing? I recognise a reluctance – my not wanting to take the trouble to reflect, because reflecting on such a wide range of activities doesn't immediately bring the urge to write. But even making the list above provokes reflection. Ah, now I think I'm closer to it: maybe it is to do with the many disparate emotions involved. Something in my emotional background – the lack of training and competence that I experienced in youth, maybe – says, oh, too much to process here, let's look at something else instead, something easier.

Looking at it again, I can't fail to recognise that broadly stretched range of emotional experience. So let me go into a little detail.

So, back to the school-friend's birthday party. This was a highly intellectual school I attended from just under 13 years old to just over 18. Most of the people I know from there went on, one way or another, to ‘successful’ careers in this, that or the other. A few of those school friends were there. And that fills me with mixed feelings.

On the one hand, I feel like a failure, compared with many of them. Not only a failure in terms of social norms, like wealth or social status, but also in terms of the lack of coherence, the lack of self-determined meaning in my own life. The lives of many of them could be written as a coherent narrative. There is some ‘survivorship bias’ here, as those who have been abject failures would probably not turn up at a birthday party like that, or a school reunion for that matter.

On the other hand, would I really want to change places with any of them? More to the point, would I really enjoy that privileged London-centred life, perhaps involving the exclusive social circles that I felt were impenetrable during the three years I lived in London, or even the Clubs, some of which are still only for ‘gentlemen’? Well, no, of course – that's what I felt even directly after university. I recognised then, and on reflection I still recognise that I don't fit into that world.

In any case, on Monday night, after that virtual party, my emotions were dark and turbulent, and I was not in a fit state to write a journal entry. Nor was I able to receive any comfort offered. But, somehow – and that ‘somehow’ feels quite significant – I got through that, so that yesterday I was able to take a very uninspiring network meeting in hand, and yesterday and today have some really positive and joyful interactions.

It has felt like a quick reprise of the weather, turning so quick from frozen solid to the current heat wave (well, wave of warmth at least). The temperatures have been similar to the very same date two years ago, when I arrived for my first visit here. That is another great memory.

On reflection, life is really not bad at all. Envy of school friends is quite unnecessary.

And, after all, making a journal entry is worthwhile.

Topics: Journal writing; Personal development

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