Jotting down thoughts, quotes, songs or observations is second nature to me. Since about age 15 I’ve consistently kept a journal.
The “love&apathy” entitled Myspace/LiveJournal aside (I had ANGST okay?), these notes are usually the only “reliable” record of events, friends now forgotten, and my view in the moment – without the bias of hindsight.
From small things, like the smell of honeysuckle at midnight on Santa Clara’s campus, to life changing months of travel, these little bits of myself are put down in their pages.
I don’t think I’ve ever suffered a lack of grandiosity, but neither have I thought anyone would ever read my journals again; perhaps but myself. And I look back very rarely.
So then what is this compulsion to record? To paste in tickets, a ginko leaf, a flower, an incomprehensible once inside joke?
I suppose it comes a bit from how bad my memory can be at times – perhaps in the same way as all of ours. The way we lose the taste of chilled red wine in Slovenia; the mix of anxiety, thrill and freedom when we snuck up Multnomah Falls at 2am to lie on our backs and stare at the stars; or just how much we raged at that injustice, however slight.
It’s the desire to grasp those fleeting emotions, to define reality, to understand the meaning of living in the face of uncertainty.
I know few things in life. One I’m certain of is that I am a writer. A writer searching for my story. Maybe that’s what these journals have been all along; signposts directing me to what has always been there.
Then again, they might just be cheap therapy.
Either way, I’m grateful for the habit and perhaps someday my journals will help me find my way.