Writing Dail(e)y

Do you know why I started this blog?

That’s a trick question, by the way. Because I’m not even really sure why I started it. I mean, I knew I wanted to write more. And since I had the misfortune to not have a name that rhymed with something like “monthly” or “annually,” I suddenly found myself writing “daily” or “dailey,” as I like to say. Now that I have been blogging quite regularly, I’ve amassed a lot of posts, and of course, I’m proud of them.

But I can’t help but realize how ephemeral it all is.

For example, the entire structure of this blog is that I write something daily. So, after 24 hours is up, that particular post goes on to live the rest of its sad life in an archive. No more interaction or friendly banter in the comments. Heck, even forget about what I wrote.

And don’t get me started on the idea of a blog itself. What happens in about 5 years when blogging is obsolete and goes the way of most technological formats? Will I have to update my blog on a hologram soon? Will I have to print my blogs out and put them in photo albums for my kids so that I can reminisce about the good old days when you actually had to fly to different places in planes rather than teleport there? Will I suddenly be claiming that I had to walk to school, which was up a hill, both ways?

Of course, these are all my thoughts when I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. Which is about every night around 10 PM, when I’m scratching my head, trying to think of something to fill the page with and only coming up with goose egg.

And at the same time that I finally get some inspiration is when I realize how completely magical this blog can be. I’m interacting with complete strangers (and mostly my mom) where once a day we both see eye to eye about something. That’s what hitting the “like” button does. It sends a message to me that essentially says, Yes, Bailey. You’ve hit a nerve in the human condition, and I need to recognize that. And for me? There’s no better compliment for what I do.

In the end, this blog doesn’t need to represent my legacy. It simply needs to connect me with one person in one 24-hour period to be successful.

Because our lives are not years, months, weeks, or even days, added altogether. They are moments and memories subtracted out and strung along. And while this blog may not be around for me to flip through like an old photo album someday, it still helps me to remember my moments in vivid (and sometimes nauseating) detail right now. And so a day or an experience is etched in my mind purely through the act of writing about it. And those tiny, precious moments will be my legacy someday.

I can’t thank you all enough for being a part of it.

Do It For The Story

This was both the slogan and the excuse during college.

Wait, you have a test tomorrow? No, no, no, dude. DUDE. We need to rob a bank, grab some corn dogs, jump the fence to the community center, and draw mustaches on all of the “Rent-a-Cop” posters. 

And any sensible person would at least ask why. But your friends already knew the answer: It’s so that you can be the coolest person at the party, strangers gathered around, beer in one hand and the other hand slightly raised in the air, describing how you scaled the fence to the community center only to find that your best friend was hanging from his underwear at the top. Like your friend, all of the people at the party are also hanging: on your every word.

And really, this isn’t news. Humans have a long oral history. We love stories. It’s how we communicate dangers, humor, and understanding. We are completely fascinated with telling others what has happened to us in order to warn them or simply make them laugh.

But that’s the key. To tell a story, you need an audience.

Which brings me directly to my point. You can have all the money in the world. You can jet-set to Japan to see the sunrise only to race back to New York to see it again. You can wear bikinis in Hawaii and parkas in Alaska in the same weekend. You can rub elbows, and maybe even noses, with celebrities. You can buy a mansion and have a wing just for your dog. You can invest that money, donate it to charity, and make it all back again.

And that would be great, truly. But it wouldn’t mean anything without someone to talk to about all of your adventures, all of your experiences, all of your fears. It would mean nothing if you couldn’t share it with at least one other person (romantically or platonically).

You see, as a young person who is not entirely sure what she wants to do with this box of chocolates we call life, I’ve always figured that if I had enough money, all of my problems would be solved. I could travel the world, like I want to. I could buy a house and rescue all of the homeless dogs, like I want to. I could feed the hungry and make a difference, like I want to. Yes, I could eat lots of corn dogs, like I want to.

But in the end, what would it amount to if I couldn’t tell my story to someone? Is a sunrise seen alone as sweet as one shared? For that matter, is a corn dog?

That’s a lesson this social media generation can relate to: “pictures or it didn’t happen.” Well, your life is one snapshot in a billion. If there is no one to appreciate its beauty, does it really matter that it happened?

And I know, it’s sort of like a “if a tree fell in a forest” argument, but I wonder if I didn’t have life already figured out in college, when I did everything for the story. I wonder if I’m not trying to complicate everything now that I’ve graduated.

The point is, you can rob a bank, eat corn dogs, and draw mustaches on unsuspecting Rent-A-Cops. But if you have no one to talk to, no one to laugh or cry with, no one to enjoy the stories of your life with, you have nothing.

In the end, it isn’t what we leave behind. It’s who we leave behind, and what we shared with them that truly matters. Write your story and make it a good one so that others will want to share it, too.

Leaving a Legacy

No one wants to leave anything behind.

We all want to drink the dregs, spend our money, and peace out in a painless way.

But I think there is a real pressure to make our mark in a tangible fashion in today’s world. To be someone who can directly point to something and say, “That, right there, is my contribution to the world. Bask in it and enjoy it.”

But how many of us really get to do that? How many of us get to leave a legacy that we can be truly proud of?

Actually, we all do.

I think the world needs reminding that no matter how small, we all make ripples in the stream. Whether you write a book, record an album, make a birdhouse, or inspire the people around you by being uniquely you, we all leave our lives at the end of our time a little bit better.

And, friendly note, you don’t have to do any of the above. You don’t have to write a book or an album or sell out a stadium or make millions of dollars just to make sure that you will be remembered. If you just live your life, enjoying the company of others and being positive wherever you go, you can inspire anyone and everyone around you.

Or you can be a crotchety old witch who yells at little kids and refuses to let anyone drive her anywhere. In either situation, you’ll be remembered by those around you. After all, who could ever forget how nice (or mean) you were? People recall the extremes of a person, but more than that, people recall the impression you made on them.

The point is you don’t have to put so much pressure on yourself. (Do not confuse this with “stop chasing after that dream of yours.” You should definitely keep dreaming.) Just accept that you are going to leave your story with someone as the person you are. And once you understand that, you are free to be the person you want to be.

The “Angel” in Angelou

More Maya

I would be absolutely remiss if I did not spend a bit of time honoring the absolutely indomitable presence that has left us physically today and yet has left us with plenty to think and wonder about for years to come: Dr. Maya Angelou. As she passed away today at 86, it is not her age that we meet with surprise, but the life in her years. I found out today that she had 50 honorary degrees. 50. I don’t own 50 anything. Maybe 50 socks, but God knows they aren’t ever in the same room at one time, so how could I count them? Ariel in The Little Mermaid only had 20 thingmabobs. Probably because she spent too much time singing about said thingmabobs to gather anymore, but you get the point.

Angelou was a force. She sang and danced professionally. She wrote screenplays, music, poetry, and 30 best-selling books. She spoke 5 different languages, and yet wielded English with a mastery that is unrivaled to this day. Dr. Angelou is one of the most accomplished people the world has ever known.

Poetic Injustice

And yet, with all that said, I do not have an adequate grasp of the English language, after studying it for most of my life, to truly capture Angelou’s legacy. I’ve circled this issue like a hawk all day, and my wings are undoubtedly tired, but I have nothing to show for it. I thought about compiling some of her greatest quotes to marvel at (and believe me, I would have been here all night attempting to do so) or a list of 10 things that Maya Angelou has taught the writing world (another insurmountable task due to the depth of her talent). I also got in the ring to box with the idea of delving into what most biographies and news stories will undoubtedly gloss over in the days following her death: the fact that she was raped at 7 and worked for a time as a stripper. I feel that these aspects of her life are not inflammatory, but instead they make her even more tangible as a human. As anyone who has ever achieved a large amount of success can attest, a person’s humanity can be obscured when all of their accomplishments are rattled off in a block of text at the close of their time here on earth at the close of a day on a news report. We need to preserve all parts of Angelou’s legacy as well as her humanity. However, it would truly take another 86 years, another lifetime, to celebrate Angelou in all of her glory. And even then, it might just take that long to frame all of those honorary degrees she was awarded.

And so, I will not continue to summarize Angelou’s life, nor compress it, nor dilute it. She is a woman that lived her life out loud, and she does not need me or anyone else, for that matter, to speak for her. Even in death, she has that rare ability to make people listen. I’ll leave you with this video of Angelou reading her own poem, “Still I Rise,” with that sultry, deeply-dwelling voice of hers and enough sass to shake the very foundations of your own self-confidence. Here’s to you, Dr. Angelou. May no one ever reduce you to less than you are, in words or otherwise.