Code Talker

I’m in the process of transcribing 32 years of my handwritten journals into a digital format. Some of my earliest journaling was done in standard notebooks that with age have become faded and almost illegible. Yet, it is absolutely incredible reading the landscape of my life written at my various levels of maturity and stages of evolution. 

During this process, I have come across several entries from the late 80s and early 90s that have left me a bit remorseful. Always fearful that someone might find and read my journals (I was still living at home at the time), I ciphered some of my more sensitive experiences. I coded the material because it was mystic in nature, and I knew it would not go over well with my family. Problem is, all these years later, I can’t remember the code.

Grappling with the humor and irony of having locked myself out of my own history, I thumbed through some of my recent journals to see if I was subconsciously doing the same thing. Although I did not find volumes of ciphered text, I did come across instances here and there where I coded paragraphs. These are much easier to decipher as I have the entire entry as a context clue. No such luck exists when the entire entry itself is ciphered. Going forward, I should be more mindful. What happens in another 30 years when I look back through my journals from today and can’t understand a damn thing I’ve written?  

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Recently, a friend and I were on our way to lunch. She opened my center console to charge her phone and saw a small piece of paper with some writing on it. She plugged in her phone but held onto the paper. After studying it, turning it this way and that, she finally asked, “What is this?”  Smiling at the significance the paper held for me, I said, “Just a little bit of magic.”

She doesn’t like the word magic. I knew this when I said it. The idea of magic challenges her Christian sensibilities. She didn’t return my smile, and after a long, uncomfortable pause, she asked, “And what exactly do you mean by magic?” And without a second thought, I poured some water on that word to neutralize it and morph it into something she could accept. I added a few Biblical analogies and mixed in some scriptures, and the knot in her brow began to soften as she nodded her approval. I didn’t explain the piece of paper in the beautiful language that was authentic to me but in a language that was acceptable to her, and in that watered-down explanation, the beauty of what was written on the paper was completely lost in translation.

She tucked the paper back into the console. She was content. I, on the other hand, was not. I was fully aware of what I had just done – I had ciphered. Except this time, it wasn’t in a journal; it was right here in the life-living world. I changed what makes me ME because it made someone close to me uncomfortable.

As I enter another year of life and turn my attention toward self-reflection, I ask myself, is this healthy for me? Is this beneficial for me? Does this make me happy? You and I both know the answer to that.

If I I continue to cipher myself out of the picture, I will cheat the world out of the gift that is me. And let’s be honest; that would be a tragedy of epic proportions!