Evolution Tracers

'How did it get so late so soon?' asked Dr Seuss.

This post comes with its own soundtrack. Hopefully by the time you're nearing the end, the bridge around the five minute mark will kick in, with all the horns and shit, and your head will explode. That's the idea.


The winter that bridged 2014 and 2015 passed by more quickly than i can ever remember one passing. I mean this morning was dicking cold, i'm not heralding any freak arrival of spring. But seeing as how a whole lot of life is lived in the anticipation of things, i'm surprised just how fast the moments themselves went by, how quickly the future became the past. It's like Christmas and New Year got all Keyser Soze and, like that... 

were gone.

Some chief once said that in childhood, the days are short and the years are long. But the older we get, the longer the days draw out, and as the years go by more quickly the shorter they seem. An absolute gee of a long-distance cyclist called Jedidiah Jenkins put this down to a lack of fascination with the world. As children all things astound us, and the nature of rad times being that they fly by, this means the days pass in the blinking of an eye.

But the older we get, with the responsibilities we take on, the routines we establish, the formulaic nature of our years pass without much to distinguish between one and the next. And as we enter old age as happens when not much is going on, time drags. But because the years themselves go by with less life-enhancing content, they morph into one, so the polar opposite pattern from childhood emerges. In old age the days are long, and the years short.

Which must be why the armchair pipe and slipper brigade deem it so important to remain childlike in your perception, to do your flyest Peter Pan impression around the clock, to prolong a fascination with things as much as you can. To make each day as memorable as possible. Doctors say - illness to one side - the one thing that kills us far more quickly than old age, is loss of enthusiasm.

But asides from upping sticks and seeking out the ends of the earth on bitching roller-blades, how else can we slow the speeding juggernaut of time? As rad as it undoubtedly is, you can't spend your entire life blading across the australian outback.

Doesn't surprise me, you look like a bell.


The answer....

- d r u m r o l l -

 is to keep a record of it.

That might sound pretty tame. But a concrete way to fight time is to fight loss of memory. And our memories are so bad that we need all the jump-leads we can get to kick start them. It's no coincidence that one of the most famous works of world fiction called itself In Search Of Lost Time. No i haven't read it, but i know enough to know Proust was bemoaning the tendency life has to go all Keyser Soze on us. And the idea of memory as a means to combat this.

Because without memory, what do we have? If we can't make sense of the past, we're zombies. That's why extensive smackdowns - nights out when you can't remember jack - are so debilitating. You wonder where your life went. And that's going to happen times a quadrillion when we're older. People who say all that matters is the present man are right only up to a point. Live the present like a gee, but if you don't log it, how can you revert back to it. And that's the point. To not let life pass you by without taking time out to check yourself. Before, during, and after you wreck yourself. To nurture memories that you can later bask in.

Reading yourself back you realise how much you change. You get to trace your own evolution.


When you travel there's a sadness you take with you. Even the most incredible experiences have their melancholy because the further afield you go, the less the probability is that you'll ever go back there. Below is a photo of me on a stretch of road in the Andes mountains in Argentina on a bicycle trip. I've never felt more alone in my whole life. I wasn't lonely, but i've never experienced deeper solitude. It was deafening. I was miles from anywhere, i hadn't seen a car for about a day. And as the sun set, for half an hour i went quite crazy. I was overcome with this unquenchable energy and ran all over the place like a fucking weirdo.

I know i won't go back there. I won't ever walk down that stretch of road again in my life. A special friend of mine who went out of my life recently told me about the necessity of leaving yourself behind. You leave parts of yourself everywhere you go, little bits of yourself that you scatter here and there, said this person. They are yours to leave, and somewhere deep inside you know you need to leave them. In order to move on grow. The fact i won't ever go back to that place shouldn't bother me, because a part of me is still by that roadside running around like a madman. And in my head, whenever i want, i can go back there.

This year, for the first time in my life i've kept a scrapbook. I've written diaries in the past, but i've now started a discipline i can imagine continuing for good. The joy i've already taken from rereading the last 8 months of my life has shocked me. It's time well spent. When i finally join the armchair pipe and slipper brigade I want to have piles and piles of scrapbooks. It'll be like the best, richest, dvd collection in the world. I can't think of many better ways to while away idle days than by rereading your life, and discovering anew this person you'd forgotten. This might sound like a heavily self-indulgent pastime, a dangerous cycle of spending time on your own, with a book, written by you, about you, and reading about yourself. Like a dog eating its own tail.

But as stupid as this sounds, to make sense of the world, it's exactly what we need to do.

There's a monumentally shit film i watched ages ago called Elizabethtown. In it Kirsten Dunst spends her whole time doing what, on the face of it, might be the most annoying habit in history. When she clocks a moment she loves, she raises her hands to her face and takes an imaginary photo with an imaginary camera.

Asides from this straying dangerously into reblochon territory, it's actually the crux of this whole post. If we don't take time out from life to log moments and situations in our heads, or in scrapbooks, or in diaries, we won't be able to understand our own evolution. We'll wake up and wonder where the hell it all went. The joy in rereading these is that you travel back in time and get to hang out with your younger self. You'll be amazed by how much you change. The point is, we have to trace our evolution. We have to eat our own tail. If we can never really understand why we're here, at least this way we'll come closer to understanding who we are. 


  1. Dear Diary,

    Today I wrote in my diary. Fearful of how it might read when I read it tomorrow, I rewrote some of it, just to ensure it is read in a way that will be readable.

    I mostly wrote about my writing, was it right? was it righteous? Could I write the right writings that can be read right now, or only for tomorrow? I read what I wrote aloud. It was written rightfully, I hoped.

    I closed the diary - and I prayed for a good sleep. Tomorrow I shall write in a way that captures what I want to say in a good way, in the right way.

    All my Love