Have you ever looked back into an old journal and marveled at what you’d written? I mean, actually wondered if it was YOU who’d written what was between the covers and not someone else; some ghost writer? Yep. Lately, as my interest with writing has grown, I’ve also been looking back at some old journals. On many levels, the exploration has been very enlightening and often ends with “Did I really write this stuff? It sounds too good to be me.” Those self deprecating questions, their source and reason for existence could be the subject for another exploration … but that’s a story for another day. Back to the journal. Most of my exploration has been in one journal, in particular. It’s this really cool, thick journal that contains an interesting selection of writings from an intense segment of my life: summer, 1999 – early 2013. Included among its leaves are additional random selections and documents that I stuck in it as if it was my drawer for very special “junk.”
The journal’s life began as a homework requirement for a program of study at the Globe theatre in London in the summer of 1999. Earning my masters degree in theatre while on a year long sabbatical from my job was a BIG thing, especially at age 42, and a two week intensive course in London to round out the year was quite an adventure. At the end of the course, I’d only used a fraction of the pages for my writings so, after the trip, the journal became my “go-to” place for benchmark meditative reflections recorded, in the earlier years, under a tree at Liberty State Park in Jersey City. That journal saw me through my parents’ illnesses and deaths, rocky roads travelled with close friends, emotional ups and downs as relationships came to an end, collecting my thoughts about odd and random dreams and, most recently, movement toward a blossoming understanding of change and the human condition.
I’ve been reading through this 13 year history a little each night, sometimes giving it the “stink eye” but always knowing that what I wrote was in direct response to something going on in my life. Communication skills were never a strong suit in my family and, as a result, things that needed to be said aloud were internalized; repressed. This journal was the first place into which I spoke freely. Its poetry (should really publish those 120 haiku), coherent stories, incoherent blasts of random entries, notes from webinars focused on self compassion, free flowing “grammar (almost) be damned” entries, some phone numbers and addresses that I have NO clue about and art work have been shedding wonderful light on my habits and patterns through the years; providing insight into my inner heart and soul.
FASCINATING stuff. And, did I say art work? …
I’m a doodler from way back. Oh, you TOO? What a surprise … not. Always liked to put pencil to paper and just let it rip and, maybe, develop into an artist someday. But THAT was another one of those places where where my head was at odds with my soul. My hand (my soul) seemed to always want to draw and, if it had a mind of its own, it thought it would’ve been a wonderful artist. But my head always got in the way and said “NO, you’re not an artist. Look at that silly thing you just made.” So I stuck to “just making doodles.” But, let me tell you, if there was a blank piece of paper and a pencil nearby, some doodles appeared. Paper bags ended up having faces and becoming puppets for a day. Most of my high school and college notebooks had lots of doodles in the margins commensurate with my level of engagement in the classwork. And as an adult I found doodling to be especially therapeutic during faculty meetings as a means for preventing random scatological phrases from exploding out of my mouth.
Well … on the last page of my cool journal … I found a MAJOR doodle. Did *I* really doodle this? YES. *I* DOODLED it. I don’t think I doodled it in one sitting … I started with the circle and ended with the shading. I believe it was a work in progress for a few days (could’ve been a faculty workshop) and I WISH I’d written a date on it or could remember why/where I started it.
All that really matters is that this is the artifact …
Pencil. And. Paper. Although I like the paper and pencil-ness of it, time has moved on and it seems to want some color now.
New colors as life continues to ebb, flow and take on new beautiful forms.
Just like me. I am my journal.
Peace, always. ❤