After 50 years of keeping a journal, though more often of a weekly than daily regularity, I’ve passed the 200-volume mark. By now, most are hardbound, while others, especially early on, were of spiral-bound notebook nature or smaller size.
A few people in my past who admitted to trespassing into their contents were all disappointed. Guess they were expecting juicy details, though one was quite angry and accusatory. Look, mental health requires someplace to spew forth, and if a journal isn’t safe, corking up will only mean the feelings will fester.
Except that few of my entries articulate my emotions, feelings, or sensations. Yes, there were way too many of the hippie-era wow variety, but mine soon became a matter of tracking my ongoing activity. Just trying to remember what I did, who I met, what I saw filled the pages, when I could get to them.
Even so, they remain prompts into so much that happened at the time. And without them? There are no photos. Could that be why everybody is shooting like crazy with their cell phones?
The first newspaper editor who hired me, Glenn Thompson, urged me to keep a journal, though I didn’t get around to the practice until three years later, shortly after graduating from college. Still, I am everlastingly grateful. For the record, I was trying to puzzle together my “problem,” at least as it applied to the lack of a love life. Instead, it began noting the highs, even in the absence of a lover. And then began going from there.
Yes, I wish I had started earlier, there are so many details of my life I’ve forgotten and a trail from there would be deeply helpful in seeing how I eventually landed where I have.
Still, looking back, maybe mine aren’t journals, after all, but maps of my time, movements, and interests.
How do you keep track of where you’ve been?