Fire consumes. It destroys. It's greedy, eating anything in its path.
My diaries are like photographs. Memories of time past, captured in that single moment when I decided to put words onto the page.
No matter what I wrote in my diaries, I would never want to destroy my memories.
Dominique Browning brings up valid points in her article, "Burning the Diaries." She never wanted anyone to ever read her diaries, especially her sons. She wanted to protect her privacy. She wanted to burn her past and her mistakes. She wanted to free her soul that lived within the pages of her diaries.
But, I like the idea of diaries sticking around-- like a time capsule, waiting to be opened by a later generation who will learn the secrets, successes, and failures of ones life. Everyone is unique. No one ever has the same exact experiences in life. No one puts the same words to a situation.
I've kept a diary off and on throughout my life. I kept one in third grade because I remember having an entry about the September 11th attacks. I kept one at the beginning of high school because I remember writing about how terrified I was to start a new school. But, no matter what I wrote or how silly I sounded years later, I always appreciated that I had put the pen to the page. Re-reading my entries always seemed like taking a step back into the past, which is sometimes comforting to re-visit.
Diaries hold all kinds of possibilities. They provide a way to learn from the past or return to your roots. Browning wanted to hide parts of her life in the best interest of her sons, and I respect that, but I think diaries are meant to be revealing-- and the fact that they're supposed private means that they are just asking to be read.
When I'm gone from this world, I want my family or friends to be able to look at my diaries and remember me. I want someone other than me to know the who me and to be able to peek into my life from my own perspective. I don't mind because I'm not ashamed or embarrassed about the decisions I've made in my life. I've learned to acknowledge that everything that has happened to me has made me who I am.
Browning states, "As the journals burned, I watched in horrified fascination, as if it were some other person laying the books onto the fire, to entertain or torture me. The fire had a violent beauty. And I did think, whoa, there goes a lot of material. But I also thought, good riddance. I’ve made what I could of that material."
Whether or not someone chooses to burn their diaries, I think it all comes down to what we learn from them. Make what you can of the material.
Fire may seem exhilarating. It's violent and it's beautiful. But I never want to see the flames skim the pages that are filled with my words. I put figments of my heart and soul into my diary and I want them to be around longer than a lifetime.