Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Journal Keeping

I mentioned not very long ago that I have been keeping a journal for many years. I remember when I thought that "keeping a journal" was something more dignified than "writing in a diary." Diaries were small books that locked, not notebooks, and something girly girls kept under their mattresses. "Real writers" used journals. In the past, I've used my journals for writing exercises, much the way this one started, writing on a word a day, as well as for "regular" journaling. I even did this at Camp Odyssey, and who knows how I found the time to do that while Camp was on!

I don't usually read my old journals, unless I'm looking for something specific I think I'm not remembering correctly or completely. Sometimes I can see my own evolution, but reading stuff like that only looks that way because now, with 20/20 hindsight, I know where it was leading. My experiences of "just flipping pages" have sometimes been disappointing - certainly sometimes I've written down things I was glad to have forgotten.

A good example of this is that my memory of a particular wedding I attended in 2000 is that I had a good time. What I remember is that I really enjoyed seeing some of the people who had come from out of state. The guy I was living with and I had decided to separate but had not actually done so yet, and we were getting along well that day since the pressure was off. My journal, however, records that I was miserable the entire time because these out-of-state friends were nagging me about the break-up. It's possible that had the wedding not been on a boat I would have left right after dinner - I wrote that I spent the evening wishing the boat would return to the pier.

Anyway, the other night I was moving some boxes and noticed a journal from the summer of 1997. In fact, it starts on the night before that year's Camp Odyssey began, and probably inspired me to actually write that post. Because I've been thinking about Odyssey so much lately I read a big chunk of that journal. I remember that some years ago I had decided that I would concentrate on writing what I felt rather than what happened to make me feel that way. This came about because I was spending a lot of time writing chronology and it was getting in the way of my feelings and/or thoughts about an event - especially when a lot of events tumbled close upon each other.

What I discovered the other night was that I didn't remember some of the things I was having feelings and/or thoughts about when I had written those entries. That night I read several entries in which I had written that I had found something or someone particularly challenging, and wrote why I felt so challenged, but not very much about what the actual incident or person was that triggered all those feelings. So it's rather obscured, especially as I do not remember names very well.

On the other hand, I was reminded of someone I really liked and respected in those days but with whom I haven't been in contact since I moved to California. I had forgotten that we had been so loyal to each other, and the journal reminded me. I asked YaYaWOT, who talks to him every week, for his email and sent one off to him, telling him exactly that.

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