Forty-three and counting

How do you try to estimate the effect on your life of a habit that continues 43 years?

It was September 6, 1966. I was 20 years old, at the end of a summer of working in a glass factory, a few days away from heading out for my sophomore year in college. For a long time I had wanted to keep a journal – a diary, may be what I called it then – and finally I bought one.


My present journal book is number 76. If 150 pages per book is a good average, that’s 11,250 pages. If 30 lines per page and an average 6 words per line, that’s 180 * 12,250, or more than two million words.

I wonder how much those two million words amount to.

What are they, after all? Some are commentary on the day’s events, either personal and internal or something in “the news.” Some are idle thoughts. Some, quotations from my reading. Some are expressions of angst. Some are initial attempts at poetry. A lot of entries are conversations with what I call the guys upstairs. And in recent years, more and more record conversations with people on the other side – dead people.

Quite a mixture. I wonder what that 20-year-old kid would have thought, if he could have seen what that habit he was acquiring would lead to.

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