I just journal. That’s all. Compulsively and without any particular objective. I still have that first journal I started with at 12. (In it there’s an entry about my fervent crush on Guy Ivie and another on my deep need to find “peace of mind”. That girl is in for a ride, isn’t she?)
When I was getting rid of most of my possessions to move to New York City in 2000, I took down the box of journals from a shelf in the closet. What to do with these books? Other than the one from when I was 12, the journals represent an unbroken narrative of my life going back to 1980. (The other journals I had from my teens were lost in the 1976 Christmas Eve house fire along with everything else I owned. I tend to think that may have been a very good thing, actually.) I boxed those babies up and they’re in the little cupboard over the fridge now.
I don’t journal every day.
There’s an itch, though, that has to be scratched every several days or so (like this morning; I’ll break off writing here soon so I can get a journal entry in before work).
My journals have gotten me into trouble, too. Mom read one of those that later burned up in the house fire and, boy, did the fertilizer hit the ventilator that day. Even back in the analog days it turns out parents freaked out when they discovered their daughters were smoking pot and hitchhiking. There was screaming, there were threats, there were slammed doors, and in the end, I left home three months before graduating from high school. For the record, I stayed in school and did get that diploma.
Fast forward to my soon-to-be-estranged husband reading my journal. Somehow him not wanting to have sex with me didn’t preclude him going ballistic when he read that I was getting mine elsewhere. End of a marriage that really should never have begun (another story for another day).
Maybe those weren’t such bad things after all.
See, here’s the thing: I have no target. No objective. No master plan. I don’t expect to hone my skills, learn deep truths about myself, or establish new perspectives. That’s not to say that none of those things happen because they kind of do from time to time. But it’s not intended.
I see articles in Medium and other places that will help me learn to supercharge my writing career with journal writing. I don’t read those articles. Well, ok, I’ve opened one or two and scanned it, but those articles aren’t written with me in mind.
All I’m doing is leaving a trail of crumbs through the forest.
I imagine myself sitting in a corner somewhere, drooling a bit and 98 years old, with stacks of those books all around me. There’s my life, or at least the bits of it that felt important enough to write down. The cycles, the dumb things I did (and then did again), the stuff I did right, the people I cared about, the places I lived, the really great books I read, the places I traveled to and from, the brilliant ideas I didn’t follow up on but talked about incessantly, the weather (coming from the Midwest, it’s kind of an obsession), the happy accidents when things just worked out, the things I broke and the ones I fixed, and all those completely forgettable days and nights that would have simply vanished if I hadn’t taken the time to write about them.
But who knows? I could get hit by a bus on my way home from work tonight and then someone (poor AleXander) will be stuck with that pile of books.
I hope some parts of them are at least entertaining!
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