In this depression and dreadful uninterrupted suffering, I don’t condemn life. On the contrary, I like it and find it good. Can you believe it? I find everything good and pleasant, even my tears, my grief. I enjoy weeping, I enjoy despair. I enjoy being exasperated and sad. I feel as if these were so many diversions and I love life in spite of them all. I want to live on. It would be cruel to have me die when I am so accommodating.
~ Marie Bashkirtseff
A talented painter and student of the Académie Julian in Paris, Bashkirtseff died of tuberculosis at age twenty-five in 1884. She titled her voluminous diary I Am the Most Interesting Book of All – which is quite a boast. We should all think so highly of ourselves. But questions arise: Fiction or non-fiction? Paperback? Hardcover? Leather-bound? If your life is a book, are you the author of that book or the mere possessor and reader of it? Is it the sort of book you set on the shelf and admire from the safe distance of the couch during television commercials, or is it the sort of book you open at every traffic signal, at every bench, and re-read through the early hours of morning? And can you ever hope to master its contents? I suppose journal keeping itself is an attempt to master one’s contents. But in my experience it does little more than provide my future self opportunity to blush and groan over my present self.