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LM: #267: Doogie Howser, J.R.

June 10 2024 – 11:00am

Doogie Howser, M.D. ruined journaling for me.

For non-Americans and the under-forty, Doogie Howser, M.D. was a television sitcom/drama about a boy who’s such a genius, he became a doctor at fourteen.

And at the end of every episode, Doogie would write in his journal, which was sooo high-tech at the time.

I didn’t start journaling till I was twenty-eight. And it’s because Doogie Howser, J.R. (Journaling Ruiner), well…ruined it for me. Every time I dared put pen to paper, I expected to wrap something in an insightful package, with a pithy takeaway. Like Doogie’s various maxims:

It doesn’t matter whether you think too much of yourself or too little, either way you lose.

Before my first solo surgery, thinking I wasn’t perfect was my greatest fear. But knowing I’m not perfect has become my greatest asset.

A physician searches others for signs of illness and disease. A human being searches others for signs of himself.

Worse, these would be pretty much the only things Doogie wrote in each journaling “session.” He’d just switch on the computer and, boom: insight.

You’d think I’d cut myself some slack, since Doogie was supposed to be a genius. But I guess that was the appeal of the show for boys like me: We wanted to be and believed we were like Doogie.

I’ve since learned the insightful packages and pithy statements are few and far between. You don’t pick up the journal and instantly write something brilliant. In fact, not knowing what you’ll write when you begin a journaling session is why you write. Most of it is a mess.

But that’s how you get to the occasional insightful package and, yes, pithy takeaway.

Aphorism: “If I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost.” —Vincent van Gogh

Cool: Mail A Letter is an ugly website. But it saves so much time I’d use it to send snail-mail even when in the U.S.

P.S. Writing on a typewriter makes writing an exploratory process.

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