I have kept a diary from the age of about eight. I used to start each day with: Dear Kizzy, and write as if to a friend. Sadly most of my teenage diaries were destroyed because my older self didn’t like that previous expression of angst. And even later diaries were destroyed, but those ones in a ceremonial fire – I realised how much bitterness and anger from my divorce they contained, and wanted to let that go.
Five years ago I started referring to my diary as a journal, I don’t know if that word is a little more serious, or if I just needed a change of term for a change in the style of entry. In the past re-reading diaries was painful because the pages were filled with all the bad things that happened so this made my life seem incredibly unbalanced, although it wasn’t at all – I just never wrote about the day to day good things, only those once in a year amazing times. Now I write far less, but I’ve noticed that my words are more interesting and revealing to read back since my enquiries into Buddhism.
My journal (written on average 4 days out of 7), is a place to reflect on the important things in my life:
It’s where I look at my fears (I learnt how to present a confident face at boarding school, even when I wasn’t coping).
How my anger manifests (in dreams).
It’s a place to record appreciation for simple things (the beauty of an autumn walk, how my bones love the sun’s heat after a long winter, how delicious scrambled eggs taste with chives from the garden).
I acknowledge struggles (when to let go and allow my teenagers to demonstrate that I have actually taught them well).
It’s where I examine my reactions and attitudes with a sense of deeper wisdom.
I also keep a dream book for writing the fantastical craziness of my dream world. This book predominantly feeds my creative writing for novels and short stories, but sometimes I glean some personal insight which I explore in my journal (like why I find it so hard to express justified anger in my non-dream life). And in turn the journal also feeds my creative life because it’s easier sometimes to give characters my problems to turn over, and I can discover reasons and answers for my issues in a detached way, whilst following my long-term desire to be an author.
I would love to hear all your experiences with keeping a journal.