Lately, I have been going through a lot of journals and other writings. Looking for stories for my current book project, I believe I also found the reason for writing and keeping in the first place: perspective.
The art and practice of journaling seems to have spawned an industry comprising how-to guides, lectures, journal books, and much more. There are philosophies on the reasons for and the practices of journaling, but in the end, the question remains: Why should I? I suggest in my classes that important purposes include personal clarity, voice of expression, and continuation of family and personal stories. I wished that I had some writings from inside my mom's and dad's thinking. I believe those reasons evidence far-reaching effects, but perspective is the most important short-term reason, if you count "short term" as "lifetime."
I see in my writings that date back a quarter century that the core beliefs I had then, I have now; the philosophical wonderings of then or those of now; and, the basic fears and needs of then remain today. Granted the scale and complexity of the issues and wonderments change with time and maturity, but the essence remains the same and that provides me perspective on the things I struggle with and that keep me up at night. They aren't new. They are part of my conscience, and apparently always have been. Reading the outpourings provided déjà vu moments: "I've struggled with/contemplated/been moved by this before."
Years ago I taught basic photography and written expression tips to a group of Girl Scouts. They created photo albums and scrapbooks with images and words to convey their thoughts and realities. I asked if they would like to see those sorts of things from their moms when they were the same age. The response was overwhelmingly positive, but when I asked the moms where the old red diaries with the tiny keys were stored, they confessed that most of those things were long-since gone. Not only did the daughters not have a view of life leading to womanhood, but the mothers also did not have the perspectives about themselves and their daughters that could enrich them both.
Keep writing. And start reading.
Listen to Life is a free newsletter about learning and getting more from life by paying attention to our own stories and the stories of others, based on the presentations, writings, photography and workshops by Dion McInnis (www.dionmcinnis.com). Copyright 2010 Dion McInnis. All rights reserved.