Since I arrived on Soneva Jani, most nights before I go to sleep I challenge myself to remember everything I’ve done the day before. Even though each day is a new adventure, the time feels like it has rolled into one long day of books, sea, sand and my ever-present purple uniform. I sometimes struggle to summon the memories as quickly as I would like and fear that I will forget so much of my time here too quickly.
I told this to a friend back home and she said well - why not write it down? I doubted the idea at first but then couldn’t think of any reason not to. Journals or diaries have long been used to record grand moments in history but also, they reflect the day-to-day plodding along of everyday life. A written and personal record of an experience is so much more special than a few Instagram posts – and who knows how long Instagram is going to last.
With this job I knew I would be writing a weekly blog, and the thought daunted me a little at the beginning. But like with anything, after a bit of practice it feels like I have trained my writing muscles and the task no longer worries me but instead presents a chance to be expressive. So, I decided to embark on journaling with my new-found confidence in writing and safe in the knowledge that it’s just for me to read unless I decide otherwise.
Whilst I don’t pretend to think that my diary of being a bookseller in the Maldives will be of any interest to the wider world, I love to read memoirs and diaries for inspiration myself. What appeals to me about this form of writing is that you feel like you have climbed inside of the writer’s head and are experiencing their lives with them.
One of my favourites in the genre is Honeymoon in Purdah by Alison Wearing. I picked this battered paperback up whilst I was travelling in India, and maybe it was because I was also travelling that I loved reading Wearing’s story of exploring Iran under the guise of being on honeymoon, due to the fact she wouldn’t be able to travel alone as a woman there. It was a real education for me as I knew very little about the history of Iran and the revolution there that started in 1978.
Educated by Tara Westover is another brilliant memoir and a favourite of mine. It is a tale of growing up in America to a family that don’t believe in education and who are busy preparing for doomsday. The strength and intelligence that Tara displays in her writing is incredible and like any great memoir, it allowed me to inhabit the unfamiliar world of Tara’s everyday.
The Choice by Edith Eger is a heart wrenching story of the author surviving the holocaust and it has stayed with me since I turned the final page. There are, of course, also diaries of the famous and successful people in their respective fields who impart their knowledge that benefits generations to come - Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Captain Scott and many more.
Maya Angelou said on the benefits of writing, “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women said, “preserve your memories, keep them well, what you forget you can never retell.”
Today I will be journaling about my treat of a weekend. A new batch of over water villas have been built on the resort and before taking bookings, the villas need to be tested to check everything is in working order. And so, that is how on Saturday a group of us were eating pizza in an outdoor bath-come-hot tub, set into the decking of the largest villa on the island, which can cost a guest up to $45,000 per night. Of course, we were also vigilant enough to make sure that the very large swimming pool was in the working order. The pool table, insanely comfortable beds, waterfall showers and slide that goes from the first floor into the sea below were also quality checked and found to be working wonderfully, after all, we didn’t want to slack on our very important role as quality inspectors for the resort!
The following morning, we walked to the south point of the island and treaded the stepping stones out to the outdoor cinema that’s built over the water. We jumped into the sea and waded, walked and swam for an hour, the distance to get to the next island. There we sunbathed and paddled, basking in the thrill of having a deserted island all to ourselves.
Some people, like me, write to keep their memories safe, some write because it’s their job, some write to share truths with the world and some write because pouring your heart on a page is even better than having a shoulder to cry on. Whether writing is your income, hobby or therapist, many people throughout the ages have lauded the benefits of putting words on a page. As the famous young diarist Anne Frank wrote, ‘I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.’