I keep a hand-written journal.
I love the feel of the paper and the color of whatever pen I carefully select (happen to grab). There’s an intimacy with using them that I don’t find with a computer. I slow down for a little while. Handwriting is necessarily slower than using a keyboard. If the mood strikes, I doodle alongside the writing or within the writing, turning letters or words into flowers, animals, or knotwork. I like the variety of bindings and covers available for blank books.
Once in a while, it’s good to go back through retired journals. Sometimes, it’s for no more reason than to check whether what I’m remembering at the moment is the same as what I wrote when it actually happened, either an incident or bit of dialog. Sometimes, it’s for seeing whether or how much I’ve grown or changed in my thinking, where I might still be stuck and where I’ve moved on.
Because…because on a daily basis, I often don’t have enough time for introspection. The journal enforces as well as records it.
My faith has grown and my confidence has grown. So has my ability to accept that I’m not perfect and won’t be this side of heaven. I’m less of an extrovert than I’d like to be, and there are plenty of areas where I’m not as sensible as I should be by now. My hackles still go spiky at the words It can’t be done. I laugh at myself more easily and more frequently than I could at any decade younger.
On the occasional excursion into past years, transformations and illuminations become apparent.
• Idolatry for my job came crashing down. An injury ended my ability to make a living with the job that was everything to me.
Epitaph: Here lies a toppled god; its fall rocked my world.
• I ranted about my dogs locking me out of the house an hour before I had to get ready for work. Note to self: never, ever step out the door without a key.
• I articulated why I have difficulty getting attached to places. Thirty moves in about a fifteen year span makes for shallow roots.
• My latent tendency to be a smart aleck blossomed. I told my sister an excavation site for a building was an open pit dirt mine. Ten minutes later, she smacked me. 😀
• A coworker said I reminded him of three people: Mother Theresa, Red Skelton, and Attila the Hun. I spent four entries trying to figure that out — three entries less than when another coworker told me I was too weird for words. Guilty as charged.
• I realized I could choose to be content, happy, joyful no matter what circumstances I faced. Oddly, I didn’t note what was happening at the time, what had prompted that entry. But it was a very good choice.
And weaving around and through trials and triumphs, questions and revelations, the condition of my soul or my hangnail, there are snippets of story ideas, characters, and phrases uniquely mine. Themes and motifs dominant in my writing show up clearly with hindsight.
Of course, hindsight is always 20/20.