Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thoughts: Journaling

I seem to be on a "reading about journaling" kick right now. Perhaps it's because I am journaling a lot these days, writing long page after page of stuff whirling around in my head. I am pretty sure, that if my journals are found in an attic somewhere two hundred years from now, that readers will come to the conclusion that I am a madman, but it's in my journals I let some of madness out, think crazy thoughts, and let sense sift back into my brain. It's also in my journals that I wrote prosaic notes about the day past, or write down ideas for stories or poems.

I pray in my journal sometimes, writing down words for God's ears only. I review my prayers there too sometimes to see where he has answered those prayers, and where he has not, and where he has answered them in ways I didn't see until I looked back.

There are periods in my life when I journaled on paper, in store bought journals. And times I journaled on the computer, so I could cut and paste pictures, e-mails, links and things that I wanted to remember into my journal. Neither way was completely satisfactory, and it was only when I asked myself why it had to be one way or the other that my journaling came together.

So now I keep both, a hardbound journal and a computer journal using the Life Journal software I mentioned in my previous post. Now I have the best of both worlds, and what ever my mood, slow and reflective, (which is best satisfied with a hand written journal) or fast and furious with access to my often digital world (computer based), I have it at hand. I have my journaling tools, either the computer or one of my plain black journals, nearly always nearby.

My experience is that keeping a journal has all sorts of benefits. The simple act of writing things down clears my mind. I can sort through thoughts when I write in a way I cannot seem to do in conversation, or by mere thinking alone. And once a thought is down in writing, my mind calms down and I am more peaceful. In fact, it is that peacefulness that helps me sort through thoughts and look at them more rationally and accurately.

A journal is also good for looking back. At my age, I have been through a lot of the things most people have been through. I've had successes and failures galore. I've now been journaling enough that I can go back to other times I've had to go through some of the things that are part of my life now, and see what I was thinking and feeling and how I handled them internally and how they played out. It's wonderful for getting a perspective on things that in the moment seem so important, but in the long run, really did not prove to be so important after all.

Sometimes my journals make me laugh. I say some of the stupidest things when I am ranting to myself.

Sometimes my journals make me cry, as they bring back memories that are sad, or painful.

And at times, they make me proud, as I remember positive things I did that I had forgotten about. People I helped. Successes. Good choices.

No one would ever get a real history of me through my journals. Only I understand a lot of what was going on. For me, a journal is more an emotional and spiritual history than one of events and people. Thoughts and feelings abound. Actions are hardly to be found.

From time to time, I run into someone else who journals. I love to hear how they see journaling, and what a difference it has made for them. That is one of the things I have learned, talking to people who journal. Nearly all of them are passionate, even evangelistic about journaling.

I didn't understand before I began, maybe 10-15 years ago. But I do now. A few minutes a day writing is such a benefit. A blessing really, all for a few dollars a month for a journal and a bit of time.

Here are some of the links I liked as I putz on the web reading about journaling. This entry was supposed to just be the list, but then my mind got going, and it turned into this entry. Yes, I seem to have become one of those passionate people who journal!
The picture is from Winterthur gardens. You can click on it for a larger version.


No comments: