22 August 2013

Memories and Self-Knowledge: Why Journaling Is Important



There is, of course, always the personal satisfaction of writing down one's experiences so they may be saved, caught and pinned under glass, hoarded against the winter of forgetfulness.
~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh, North to the Orient

In August, I’m participating in BlogHer’s Blogging Challenge.  The theme this month is: Hot.


W
hat a time capsule this blog has become.

Yesterday I was combing through old blog posts looking for inspiration for new posts; I had forgotten how Romantic and verbose I used to be. 

And yet, you haven’t abandoned me yet, dear readers!

Truth be told, jaded, cynical me is a little saddened and envious of hopeful, Romantic me.  Reading those old posts, it all comes back in a rush: the old excitement of preparing a feast for my friends, the quiet contentment of watching and discussing indie movies, reading poetry with other poets and writers, playing melancholic improvisations on the piano, the windows thrown wide to the summer breeze and our bemused neighbors.


Eight years later, hope has flown away for warmer shores.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that now I’m a person of despair or morbidity.  But I am more wary of hope, finding that in the past, it was dangled in front of me like a carrot to get me to think, act, or feel a certain way.  Promises of perfection, a better future, a divine goal. 

We were taught to work off our debt from yesterday’s failures, and put all our eggs in tomorrow’s basket.  But we weren’t taught to live in the moment.  To cherish the time were given right now.  And so many of us fell for the well-intentioned lie.

Image Credit: Pinterest
Thankfully, I was a little too artistic, stubborn, and intuitive to give in to that mentality completely.  Hence the dinner parties, the embracing of the forgotten, and oft-discarded virtue of hospitality.  I lived in the now as much as I could.  But I couldn’t ignore the promise of the “golden future.”  And the inevitable happened.

I got tired of waiting.

These days, it is tough to hold on even to the beauty of the present moment.  Not completely surprising when this little ship has weathered some crazy storms in the last eight years.  Storms which cloud the memory of sunnier days.  Thank goodness for ink.  Paper.  Journals.

And blog archives.

Blogging is a form of journaling and many writers use it for this purpose.  That has never been my intention, but it has become a collection of me ~ the essence of who I’ve been, who I’ve become, and I can only hope, will remain a faithful companion.  But of course, it will only keep faith with me as long as I keep faith with it.

This is why journaling, and any type of personal writing, is so important.  It’s not narcissistic as some believe ~ although I suppose there are diarists who could only write about how magnificent they look/eat/dress/love/talk.  No, most of us are just trying to make sense of life, our place in it, capturing the precious, beautiful present moments to remember when memory fails us, and all our companions are no longer there to help us relive them.

History isn’t a collection of old bones and archaic battles.  It is the memory of life, fully lived, passionately loved, and bravely fought, written down for as yet unlived lives to read.  Now go live your own history.  And let pen and ink remember it for the person you have yet to become.

You’ll thank you later.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

I’ve had organizers tell me that I should downsize by taking pictures of things and then throwing the object itself out.  But that only works if you remember later why you took that picture.  Memories are more than visual ~ they are triggered by touch, smell, and sound.  Who said journaling was just ink spots on a page?  Paste pictures, dried flowers, ticket stubs, fabric ~ whatever! ~ between the pages.  You’re limited only by your imagination.

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