Lately, I often start my morning by browsing through my “Facebook memories.”  I don’t spend nearly as much time on FB as I once did, but I’ve come to value it as a kind of virtual scrapbook/diary. I love perusing old photos of family, friends, events and adventures.

            It’s also intriguing to revisit thoughts and observations I posted in years gone by. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been collecting some of them. I thought it might be fun to see how they held up over time. Or didn’t.

            The following were all posted on Facebook – by me – in March or April of their various years. My new commentary is in italics.

         3 years ago: Well, I did it. I wore a mask to Publix. I did NOT enjoy the experience. It felt completely alien. I felt like somebody I am not. There were about a third of us in the store wearing them. I kept pulling mine down to smile or say hello. (Defeating the purpose, I know!) I will need a lot more practice to get good at this.

            Today: I got used to it, but I never got good at it.

            6 years ago: Half my FB friends think the other half are “barbarians,” and vice versa. Good times.

            Today: Sadly, this one held up… and then some.

         9 Years Ago: If you read a lot of commentary from a wide range of sources, you know that there are plenty of critical thinkers and impressive argument-makers of every political persuasion. (If you don’t know this, you AREN’T reading a lot of commentary from a wide range of sources . . . and you’re probably a very happy, peaceful person. Bless you.) Here’s what I ask myself, sometimes, when I’m reading commentary: “I wonder how serious old So ‘n So is about this argument he’s making. Does he passionately believe what he’s saying, or is he just kind of phoning it in – albeit eloquently – because his ‘team’ is paying him to? Or what if he believes SOME of it, but not all of it? How much does this actually MEAN to him?” Sometimes I wonder what these smart, articulate people would write if they didn’t have their livelihoods to consider… if they could just bust out?! You know?

            Today: Many of the writers I had in mind have since left their respective teams and gone indie. Several of them write on Substack, where they say what they mean and mean what they say. As a seeker of truth, I like this development. But I don’t like what it says about our establishment media.

            7 Years Ago: I’m getting bored with the subject of Donald Trump. It’s no fun anymore. I think we need a new national obsession. Ideas?

            Today: I assumed it was a passing fad. How quaint.

            7 Years Ago: Just left an incredibly moving service at First Pres, honoring the Maundy. The Mandate. The new commandment “that you love one another as I have loved you.” Celebrated the Lord’s Supper, sang “Ah, Holy Jesus” and “Where You There?” with half the congregation too weepy to finish. Walked out in dark silence, still trembling . . . only to get in my car, where I encountered Rick James blasting “Super Freak” on the radio. And so the Divine Comedy rolls on.

         Today: I still live for moments like this.

13 Years Ago: I’m contemplating radical empathy.

         Today: Warning – once you start, it’s hard to stop.

            13 Years Ago: Am I crazy, or is Beaufort usually covered with azaleas by now?

         Today: Wow. This post was from mid-March, 13 years ago, and the azaleas hadn’t yet bloomed. This year, the blooms appeared in late February and were practically gone when this “memory” appeared. Climate change, anybody?

            5 Years Ago: Yesterday, I was in the bathroom repairing my ponytail for an afternoon party with friends, and I could hear the news droning in the living room. (The news is almost always droning in our living room.) One of the talking heads was saying something like, “I don’t think this will affect Trump’s approval rating much. Most low information voters don’t even know who Andrew McCabe is, or if they do, they don’t care.” And I’m thinking about how Andrew McCabe is just one of many names I’ve heard bandied about this week – along with Rex Tillerson and Stormy Daniels and whoever else – and while I know who he is, I have to think about it for a minute . . . and I wonder if I care as much as I once would have. And it occurs to me that the deluge of information (and misinformation) that washes over me 24/7, day in and day out, may actually be turning me into a “low information voter.” An unfortunate paradox.

            Today: This paradox was only an inkling five years ago. Today, I know it to be absolutely true. 

            3 Years Ago: It’s a hard reckoning when you realize – in your 50s! – that the other grownups don’t know what they’re talking about either.

            Today: Still in my 50s, still reckoning with this.

            6 years ago: All my young life, fall was my favorite season – by far – but now I love spring best. Does that seem counterintuitive?

            Today: Counterintuitive, perhaps. But even truer for me now than it was then. I came across this quote from Virginia Woolf recently, so I know I’m in good company: “I enjoy the spring more than the autumn now. One does, I think, as one gets older.”

             6 years ago: The rise of “fake news” has driven me right over the edge into obsessive factchecker mode. I can’t bear even the most benign fudging, exaggerating or spinning anymore. If you are spreading fibs or half-truths on my newsfeed – even in the service of “good” – I will probably be correcting you. ‘Cause I just can’t take it anymore. Consider yourselves warned. (And feel free to correct me back. Together, we can make America honest again!)

            Today: Again, how quaint. What a sweet, innocent little thing I was back then.

            11 years ago: I’m becoming one of those middle-aged women who’s obsessed with the natural world. Hate being such a cliche, but there it is.

            Today: Now in late middle age, I’m still obsessed with nature, and have made peace with my status as a cliché.

            2 years ago: “There is nothing I dread So much, as a Division of the Republick into two great Parties, each arranged under its Leader, and concerting Measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble Apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political Evil, under our Constitution.” – John Adams, 1780

            Today: The prescience. It burns.

            6 Years Ago: Hyperbole and hysteria have an odd effect on me. I am approaching complete detachment. Perhaps I am truly evil. Would one know?

            Today: Still hate hyperbole and hysteria – which have since multiplied on social media. Still feeling detached. Still wondering if I’m evil.

            8 years ago: So, everybody is policing everybody else’s language now. Every time you turn around, there’s a new verbal taboo, another forced apology, another public shaming for the slightest infraction. Comedians can’t even get away with edgy humor anymore. (Witness the new Daily Show guy.) This is “all for the best,” right? So why does it feel meaner, nastier and more aggressive out there than it ever has in my lifetime? I swear, y’all, I don’t think the War on Language is gonna have any more success than the War on Drugs – or Prohibition, for that matter.

            Today: This observation was made long before the phrase “cancel culture” entered the lexicon, and we’re even meaner and nastier now. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

            12 Years Ago: A friend told me, “All we need is love.” As if that were some small thing.

            Today: As if.

            14 years ago: When you have a column to write and nothin’ to say.

            Today: Some things never change.