Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The World's Longest Diary

We take photographs and write diaries to document our lives.

By looking at a person's diary or photographs, we can roughly setup an imaginary personality of an individual, though the results of our imagination may not hold water.
Unless, of course, we can record in impeccable fashion the minute details of our lives every few minutes.
And at 37.5 million words, Robert Shields' diary is by far the most detailed account of an individual's life in the world.

Reverend Robert Shields, who died in 2007, was a former Minister and a high school English teacher. The interesting part about his diary is that it was updated every few hours, chronicling every five minutes of his life for 25 years. He once said that

"Maybe by looking into someone's life at that depth, every minute of every day, they will find out something about all people."

He spent four hours a day to record all his activities, recording body temperature, blood pressure, medications, describing urination and bowel movements, and slept for only two hours at a time so that he could describe his dreams. The diary was donated to the Washington State University in 1999, under the term that the diary may not be read or subjected to word count for 50 years from his death. But still, there are a few gems that leaked out:

July 25, 1993 
7 am: I cleaned out the tub and scraped my feet with my fingernails to remove layers of dead skin.
7.05 am: Passed a large, firm stool, and a pint of urine. Used five sheets of paper.

April 18, 1994 
6:30-6:35: I put in the oven two Stouffer's macaroni and cheese at 350°.
6:35-6:50: I was at the keyboard of the IBM Wheelwriter making entries for the diary.
6.50-7.30: I ate the Stouffer's macaroni and cheese and Cornelia ate the other one. Grace decided she didn't want one.
7.30-7.35: We changed the light over the back stoop since the bulb had burnt out.

August 13, 1995 
 8.45 am: I shaved twice with the Gillette Sensor blade [and] shaved my neck behind both ears, and crossways of my cheeks, too.

Really gotta salute this guy for his perseverance.


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