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The Journal and the Journey
Bob  »

The journals that are stored in boxes in my closet date back to 1971.  All these years I have recorded experiences, impressions, feelings, and reflections on things that happened and things I read.  Occasionally, I will look back at what I wrote at a particular time with amusement or embarrassment, and at times I gain some added understanding of who I was and who I am and how I got here.  Writing in a journal is a clarifying instrument for viewing the past, but also for sorting out what I am thinking and experiencing in the present.  I read somewhere, “In journal writing we often find out what we did not know we knew.”  That seems true.

As the memories pile up and as I find myself more and more forgetful, the journal also simply serves to rescue events and encounters from oblivion.  Looking back at what I wrote, I remember, oh yeah,  this person was important to me or, yes, I was really caught up in this or that once.  I see where I was stuck, maybe still am stuck, or sometimes, wonderfully, where maybe I have changed and grown.

Thomas Merton wrote, “Keeping a journal has taught me that there is not so much new in your life as you sometimes think … Still, it is true that one penetrates deeper and deeper into the same ideas and same experiences.”  That seems true, too. 

Life, like any journey, is often routine, mundane and ordinary, but that does not mean that there is not a lot to discover along the way if you keep your eyes and heart open.  Keeping a journal is not the only way to stay awake and mindful of the passage of time, but for a person of a certain disposition, this kind of conversation with oneself is a way to enjoy and learn a thing or two from the journey.

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