I have had several journals. One of the problems they caused when 'looking back' is that they weren't a reflection of my actual feelings or thoughts. I would sit down and write, normally when upset, and purge myself of whatever is going on in my head. The picture my journals painted was often a grotesque mutilation.
Like the Pixar film, 'Inside Out' - most of what goes on inside my head is a filter free discussion between various emotions and attempts to apply some logic and rationality. When I grabbed for a pen to take minutes of these crazy meetings, there was no way possible to grab everyone's thoughts. I only learnt to touch type a few years ago, so I was also constrained by how fast the thoughts could pass through my arm and fingers. Even now, when I type using a computer relatively quickly, I am not catching everything. I am paraphrasing. Like a minute taker where there is no recording and no witnesses. The journal becomes the sole record.
Journals are notorious for getting people into trouble when other people read them. Particularly if people are very close to you, it can be difficult to be honest or even know what honesty is. Tact and kindness are important filters of what gets said. We always need to think both of what is said, and how it will be heard. The relationship is far more important than the words that get used and words are not precision tools. Journals are an attempt to open those gates, and so should come with fat hazard warnings if being read by someone other than the writer. Honesty is time.
1. Is it true?
2. Is it helpful?
3. Is it kind?
This blog has effectively been a journal of thought for me. I sit down and write about something I am thinking, reading or chatting to friends about. It is a first draft. I have intentionally forced myself to write almost every day to build a habit of writing. It has also forced me to get over the 'is it good enough gate' which can prevent anything happening at all. Many thoughts are rubbish. Many ideas don't make sense. Often thoughts are disconnected, and the narrative exists in my head rather than on the paper. If the narrative exists at all.
What I do know is that I am not unique. Inside all our heads is this crazy place where we are trying to make sense of the world. We all have to take years and years to learn to be kind to ourselves because we have no choice but to listen to our own cacophony. To discard thoughts that try derail us. To let go of thoughts that over stay their welcome. We don't get to leave ourselves. There is no escape hatch unlike a world where we can choose to leave the neighbourhood we grew up in, the job we don't like, or the friends and family who form our community.
Alain de Botton talks in 'How Proust Can Change Your Life' about just how many drafts Proust went through to create his masterpieces. Editing. Cutting out. Rereading. Beauty lies somewhere between being brave enough to put thoughts out there when they are unformed, and being willing to be detached enough from what has been said to find the truth in amongst the noise that resonates. Our stories are alive because they change. We are our stories.