I really should be working – pulling together the information from today’s meetings, preparing for the next, doing some business development or some business writing. Instead, I find myself reflecting on a conversation that I had earlier with one of my nieces during which we spoke of the black diary. That is my black diary. If I mentioned my black diary to anyone else it would probably mean nothing and they would wonder what I’m talking about – I’m much better known for gadgets and electronic diaries. However, the black diary holds a special meaning to my niece and I – albeit for different reasons.
For me it’s a book that contains some of my most treasured childhood poetry – Although I rarely write these days, I wrote hundreds in my teens to early twenties. A few I wrote just for a laugh, but most to a greater or less extent reflected by deeper thoughts and feelings – the ones that I rarely shared with anyone.
My niece happened to come across the black diary one day. She read the contents and began to copy and share some of the ones that she liked. I guess I should have felt honoured, but instead I felt horrified and exposed and responded harshly telling her that it was private and she should leave my things alone.
That was many years ago so in many ways its history. However when I made reference to the diary today, she stated that it was that black diary that inspired her to start writing. I felt ashamed of myself. It was wrong of my niece to use my material without my permission, but I could have responded differently appreciating that she was actually honouring my work.
Since that time, over the years that have followed my niece and I have had numerous conversations during which she more than anyone else in my family has questioned and shown a keen interest and in my views and activities around Social Justice and Young People. I remember she was highly excited about my first book and told me about her plans to write her own. Not to long ago, to the consternation of her parents, she gave up her job in banking to work on school and social projects.
I am in no way responsible for her path, but without any delusion of grandeur there is no doubt in my mind that I have been a key influence. The truth, however, is if it was down to me she would have never seen talk less of read my black diary and it’s possible that we may not have had the subsequent conversations that we’ve had
From time to time I remind myself –that it’s really not all about me. My ‘secret’ black diary reminded me of this once more– sometimes there’s a need to go beyond oneself for the sake of others. If we allow the light of our experiences, knowledge and capabilities to shine (no matter how limited we may think they are), we just never know whose lives we could influence or impact in some way, shape or form
Selah – now I think it’s time for me to get some work done.
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