In 2016, I took part in the 22 Pushup Challenge, 22 days of 22 pushups, with each day’s effort posted to Facebook. The goal was to raise awareness of the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on returned service personnel. At the start, I struggled to do 22 pushups and knew little about PTSD.
The writer John Banville observed, "Memory is imagination, and imagination is memory. I don't think we remember the past, we imagine it." I have vivid memories of my early childhood (I believe they're memories, not imagination), which is why the #5YearOldSelfie challenge on social media caught my eye.
I've kept daily diaries and travel journals since my backpacking mid-twenties. When the smoke from the New Year fireworks cleared on the TV this year, I put away my 2018 diary and opened a new one for 2019, my 33rd year of diaries. It got me wondering where and how I'd spent the New Year since 1987.
Unlike my son, born in the era of digital cameras and phones, there are few photos of me from my childhood years, and even less of me as a teenager. I do have one with my mother and two of my brothers, taken on Xmas Day 1976 when I was a surly sixteen-year-old. *Gulp*, my son is sixteen this Xmas!
When I was five-years-old, my parents separated, and my little brother and I went to live with our grandparents. While our Nan embraced her two young grandsons with warm grandmotherly arms, our Pop could be standoffish and a little scary, especially when he was angry with a couple of "naughty boys".
As a kid growing up in Perth, W.A., in the 1960s and ’70s, I didn’t learn about the Vietnam War from classroom history lessons. Vietnam and the broader Indochina War were on our radio and TV news every morning and evening and in the front page headlines of our daily newspapers.
One day in 2001, I saw Amy the yellow lab in Queens Park with her owner, “The bloke with a beard”. He told me that ‘John had died’ and ‘Amy was missing him’. It took a few moments before I realised he was talking about a fellow dog walker, “The old bloke who walked Amy the lab for his neighbour”.
My travel journals are typically student exercise books, with each day's sights and highlights recorded over two or more pages. Daily diaries of work and everyday life are less exciting and it took me many years to settle on a format to jot down the day's events without feeling like it was a chore.
In December of 2012, I told a friend I actually enjoyed a bottle of Barefoot Sparkling Wine, but the guy turned out to be an informant for the League of Very Relevant Wine Bloggers, who subsequently banned me from writing about wine for 40 months.