Posts Tagged With: journal

The Looking Back Game


Just a handful of my journals.

I play this game occasionally. It’s called, “What was I doing on this day x many years ago.”

I get out a few of my not too recent past journals and happy books and look up the month and day. Today I would look up October 12 in whatever year I held in my hands.

It’s a gambling game because the potential for happy memories is fairly high, but the risk that I’ll be reading about some low point is equally high. For that reason I have several years handy. If one years entry for that day is more than I want to delve into I can drop it like a hot potato and jump to the next entry quick and easy.

This morning I played the game with the idea that I’d find something muse-like to inspire me. Y’know, jog a great memory, remind me of a great day I could write about, or conjure people from my past. But like life tends to do, what I found instead wasn’t the thing I searched for.

Here’s a few things I found while playing this morning:

  1. I realized I have led a weird life that makes little sense to an outsider and even to an insider. 
  2. My experiences don’t fit in a box. I’m a rectangle peg in a round hole world.
  3. It’s a wonder I’m not completely nuts and committed and on heavy sedation.
  4. Forgetting is a healthy thing.
  5. Forgiving is even healthier than forgetting.
  6. There has to be a higher power operating in my life or I’d have never survived some of the roads I’ve taken.
  7. I’ve found beauty in the oddest of places and joy among ashes and destruction.
  8. I don’t see things the way most people do, which can fall on either side of the good/bad spectrum.
  9. I’m not always honest with myself even in my journals.
  10. The truth wins in staring contests every time.
  11. “Blessed” is too weak a word to describe my life so far.
  12. It’s a good thing I didn’t know about the obstacles in the road ahead.
  13. Looking back at those obstacles astounds and amazes me.
  14. I don’t want to have a clue about what’s still waiting for me up ahead.
photo-18 copy 12

A page from a Happy Book.

For these reasons and dozens more, I’m extremely glad I’ve written down some of the stuff of my life. A review of the past like today’s little game makes me more determined to journal about the real, the difficult, the conversations, the laughter, the frightening and especially the love.

I particularly don’t want to forget a single person who’s been part of my days and hours. I want word snapshots of each one of them that, like a key, will unlock our shared time together in faded, but still clear nuances of smiles or tears, gestures, a certain look, words shared and sweet kindnesses.

The hard times give contrast and shadow to the softer ones and make me cherish the now, whatever that might bring. Honestly, reading about some of those struggles makes me pray all the more that I don’t have to face anything like it again. I’m done with difficult. Although, I’m pretty sure difficult isn’t done with me.

In journal writing or happy book writing, it’s not the historical details but the emotions behind those facts that really matter. As much as I’d like to forget at times, I really, really want to remember, too.

I think I’ll be a little kinder to myself today. I think I’ve earned it.

That wasn’t such a fun game as I’d hoped.

Categories: Books, Memory Lane | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Unlocking My Diary

My very first diary had a lock on it.  Trembling with anticipation, I took the tiny key and inserted it into the locking mechanism and turned until I heard that magical sound. “Click!”  The tab popped open and there before me, lay fresh, untouched, lined pages just waiting to have my story written on them.  Where would I hide my treasured words, for surely a lock would not be enough to keep interlopers away.  I had little brothers and sisters and a big brother, too.   As a fourth grader, there were secrets to tell, stories to write, friendships to analyze and emotions to explore.  At least I thought so.

Here is a sample of my writing from that diary.

“Today was a bad day.”

Later on that same month I wrote, “Today was a good day.”

Not my best descriptive writing.

The bad days clearly outnumbered the good ones. Fourth grade was not a good year.  Ever.  For anyone I’ve ever talked to.  (But that topic is for another day.)

Further on in the year I resorted to smiley faces or frowney faces.  Apparently writing my thoughts and feelings proved a task beyond my years.

Teen Angst

I didn’t begin journaling in earnest until I was thirteen.  How serious could my writing have been back then?  Serious enough to me that I wrote every single day.  I filled pages and pages and pages of lined paper, front and back.  I have several boxes full of binders that served as my journals through my teen years.  Unfortunately on many of those pages I wrote in pencil.  Or maybe fortunately, since I’m pretty embarrassed about who I was back then.  Clearly in my teenage ramblings I was angst ridden, overly dramatic, too sensitive, lonely, shy, awkward, geeky, confused and sad.  I was also naïve, gullible, suspicious, angry, silly and unusual.  It takes some chutzpah to let myself read that stuff.

Remember yourself at thirteen?

I try to be kind to that young woman.  She was simply trying the best she knew how to get through life unscathed.  She had led a blessedly simple and fairly sheltered life.  The teen years are a brutal, eye-opening, tangled path to make one’s way through.  Writing about that journey helped make sense of some of it.  Admittedly, from this many years looking back, there was some missing logic, some flawed thinking and some wrong assumptions that were significant and painful to navigate.

I’m thinking about rereading all of those journals.  I’m not sure I’m up for it.  Not sure my psyche can face those raw, bared emotions.  It’s probably great stuff for use in a novel.  Some of it belongs in a fire, a ritual burning with some kind of ceremony, like a cremation.  Wouldn’t a formal goodbye, a letting go, be psychologically healthy?

Incriminating Evidence

Not sure I want my children or grandchildren reading about my life without some explanations, justifications, photographs, background info, apologies.  It would be a really good idea to do some editing, some separating of the wheat from the chaff, winnow the merely embarrassing from the highly incriminating.

Maybe I could just write in bold black letters on the boxes, “To be burned, unread, upon my death.”  There ya go.  No reliving the past required if I do that.  Ah, but would they, my children and grandkids honor that request?  Would you burn your mother’s journals without reading them even if she asked you to?  Me neither.

Slogging Through

There are three or four boxes of journals stacked in my closet.  More than half from my “grown up” writings.  Those others, emotion laden and heavy with more than paper, keep calling to me.  So I’m considering the idea of slogging through the muck of my teen life and draining that  swamp memory a bit.  It’d be nice to clear some space in the closet.   Even better, it’d be nice to clear some space in my head.

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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