J is for Journal
“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.”
I was at this very cool writers' conference over the weekend, and one of the teachers told us that the most important thing he could tell us was to keep a journal.
And I cringed.
Because I have started so many journals over the years. I even have an entire piece of furniture devoted to journals....with only a few pages written in each one.
So embarrassing. At least at some point I switched to using a computer, so there's that.
The truth is that my mother, who is rarely wrong in these matters (in case she is reading this), has been telling me since childhood to keep a journal.
"You think you'll remember, but you won't," she always says.
To which I used to roll my eyes. (Not because I thought she was wrong, but because my knee-jerk reaction, well into my twenties, was to roll my eyes at whatever she said.)
Now, more than twenty years later, all I can say is this.
Why are moms always right?
When I dip into old journals, entire years of my life, which had faded into the past, leap back into my memory as vividly as the present. Even the sketchiest details--random jotted phrases about events (broke up with x. ate at x. felt x.) allow the memories to flow back like heavy rain after a drought.
I'm not saying that all of the memories are good. (In fact, if I am writing about them, they probably aren't.) But they are still welcome. Our memories are what makes us, well, us. And, as this talented teacher pointed out, there is gold in those memories, to be mined years later for stories.
“To me, reading through old letters and journals is like treasure hunting. Somewhere in those faded, handwritten lines there is a story that has been packed away in a dusty old box for years.”
On the other hand, if you've gone your whole life without journaling, don't despair. It is never too late to start, and there are always benefits to be gained from the practice.
I think I'll start again tomorrow. What about you?
“The best time to begin keeping a journal is whenever you decide to.”