Well, my latest paper journal filled up yesterday. I saw the finish line a few days ago in the form of, say, 20 pages remaining. That spurred me to quicken the pace and write with more abandon. There is a small thrill that comes in the completion of the book. Just that sense of finishing something that took, in this particular instance, about 3 years, is great. In the past I have filled up books faster, but I’ve been splitting my journaling for the last few years between paper and plastic so this one took a bit more time.
There is this constant battle in my head between paper and plastic. The keyboard of the computer cranks out the words so much faster than the pen, but the feeling of paper and pen, along with its ease of availability, make it a 50/50 call for me as to which I prefer.
I started journaling when I was 12. My Mother gave me my first journal. Her admonition was to never write anything in it that I would be embarrassed for someone else to read. I adhered to that philosophy, for the most part, throughout the years. I struggled with it a bit more in my teens I suppose. At one point I remember going back and ripping out a few pages from my journal in honor of that philosphy.
I have ever so rarely gone back and thumbed through any of my old journals. Someday, when I’m older, and have nothing better to do, I may venture. The latest benefit of journaling came in the form of my daughter’s Jr. HS assignment where she needed to provide a timeline of where she had lived and when some key events happened. I was surprised at how easy it was to pick up the paper journals and narrow things down to the point where I could deliver nearly all of the answers she needed. She was really surprised, and so was my wife, who later asked me how I was able to provide all of those answers.
When it comes to searching however, there is obviously nothing better than the electronic form of a journal. I was wondering if I had written a particular story about a trip to Moab Utah, for a Mountain biking trip the other day, and I went to my online journal and quickly bounced through the entire thing searching on the word “Moab” to find out. I didn’t bother checking my paper version, because it was a long story, and I have been too lazy to put long stories in long hand over these last few years.
Because I essentially grew up an only child, psychologically, having no brothers and sisters that were close to my age, I spent a lot of time talking to myself through a journal. It was a close friend of mine. I suppose it still is.
In my small hometown, there was a cafe’ which, a few years ago, I would frequent nearly every morning for breakfast. I would always break out my journal and write, while waiting for the food. I was frequently disappointed at how quickly they would serve me. I would always eat alone, and that suited me fine. It is what I enjoyed. When invited to join in with others on a few occasions, I would always decline.
There was a server there at the restaurant. She and I didn’t hit it off very well. When I first moved to this small town from the bigger city, I still had what I might call big city expectations of a certain level of service and personal attention. This lady would forget to fill up my water, or bring me the pitcher I would have asked for at the beginning, or bring me some ketchup or something like this. It irritated me. She didn’t seem all too bothered about it either. (ha) Anyway, I used to always stop at the counter and ask what area “she” was serving that day, so that I could sit somewhere else! After a few months I had a change of heart and decided that I was not approaching this the right way. I didn’t want to dislike her nor have to worry about where I sat or where she was serving, so I decided I was going to treat her somewhat special, and see what came of it.
She once took an interest in my journaling that I did everyday, and said that she wished she had done a bit of journaling herself, throughout her life, so that her kids and grandkids could have something to remember her by. I seized the moment. I found out from the cashier what her full name was, along with correct spelling. I went to the bookstore where I buy my journals and bought her a nice little journal and had her name embossed on the cover. The next day I left the journal at the register, for her, as part of my gratuity. Well, her service didn’t really change all that much. She was still forgetful and a laughable sour puss frequently, but we were BEST FRIENDS from that moment on! It was a friendship, by the way, which I welcomed, and enjoyed. It was not something that I tolerated. For me, I guess, the lesson is/was that we are in control of how we both decide to perceive the world and in many ways, are in control of how the world treats us in return. I believe the saying is “we reap what we sow”. That’s a lesson/experience I will remember and enjoy for quite some time.