I write all the time, but I’ve never been good at keeping a systematic notebook. A lack of discipline, no doubt; an unfaced reticence to be judged by the page, perhaps; an occupational scattering of wildflower seeds rather than the cultivation of plants in orderly rows, almost certainly. But my mother gave me recently a packet of letters that I had written home from graduate school thirty years ago. I was reintroduced to my former self. To be sure the letters are full of documentation, but, as Joan Didion notes, what is documented most is the “I” who is seeing. “I think we are all well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be,” Didion writes, “whether we find them attractive company or not.” We forget too soon the things we do well to remember, the things that chasten us, and the things the ennoble. What do you to keep in touch with your former selves? What do they tell you about who you are, about who you are yet to become?
Todd Breyfogle, Denver, Colorado