November 6, 2002 Washington DC
It feels good to return to my journal after so many months away.
I’ve been disturbed by many of the responses I’ve received to this journal, both in my guest-book and through direct e-mails. While the responses to my writings have been both positive and negative, they have consistently exhibited an interpretation of this journal that I neither intended nor agree with. I can understand that readers would like for this journal to be a thoughtful and complete recounting of my experiences and impressions of Nepal. However, it is clearly neither of these things. Unfortunately, my journal is much more limited in meaning and purpose than people want to believe. For the sake of clarity, it is important for me to address this issue. Incorrect interpretations have led to some drastically incorrect conclusions about both Nepal and my experiences in Nepal.
Let me explain…
The entries, e-mails, letters, and phone conversations of which this journal is composed are, almost entirely, direct communications to my family. As such, the content of the correspondences are very limited in content. Many of the important events and aspects of my time in Nepal will not be found here because they were too difficult, or too private, to be included in a letter home. I wrote about things that would be accessible, understandable, interesting, and reassuring to my family, not about everything important that happened. My letters to my family may make me seem dull and self-centered at times because they deal with a lot of superficialities and personal things. If this were a personal journal or a diary, the content would be much more about my feelings and personal relationships. If it were a collection of letters home to friends rather than to family, the content might be more comprehensive or uninhibited.
All of the entries in this journal were written in a consciously un-censored, extemporaneous, and (usually) hurried manner. They reflect what I was feeling from one point in time to another over the course of several years. Of course I can recall how I felt when I wrote each of my old entries (sometimes with disbelief), but I certainly do not share those feelings now. The feelings I had in Nepal were responses to a very extreme period in my life that was wonderfully different than any other. If I wrote a retrospective account of my time in Nepal from the perspective I have today, the content would, again, be very different.
To give just one of countless examples… if one is conscious of the fact that the last entry (entry #59) was written just after I returned home, the culture shock and fear that I was feeling at the time should be obvious. However, a surprising number of people have responded to that entry as if it was written seriously, rather than out of a mood of nervous sarcasm!
In short, consideration of purpose, audience, and context are necessary to correctly understand each of the journal entries. Also, it is very easy to take things out of context or get wrong impressions - especially if you only read a small number of the entries.
Someday I will write more clearly and completely about my experiences in Nepal, my impressions of those experiences, and their impact on my life. I can assure you that the content will be very different than the content of this journal -- and I will undertake the writing of it with a much greater sense of responsibility than I had when I wrote the entries in this journal.
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