If I stopped carrying my journal everywhere with me, I would lose a quintessential part of myself. My friends can tell you that I always carry my journal with me; and if it’s not in my hand, it’s likely in my book-bag.
I’ve been thinking lately about why I carry my journal with me–many may say this was a silly habit; and I might agree with them occasionally, as often it’s only adding weight, and doesn’t always prove necessary, or useful.
It may be silly–I go for days without writing at all, weeks without writing a single word that I’ll care about later, but in a few years I won’t remember what I wrote, and then I can go back through my journals and laugh about it all, and remember things I never would have remembered without them. I can do that even now–my first journal I started when I was 9, and it has the most atrocious spelling. I think that was the year I began doing spelling in school. I needed the help. Well, that little journal didn’t get finished until I was 13. After that my journals have gotten progressively larger, and have been finished much faster.
Now, there is much to say for writing as I am now–this is writing for others, as well as writing for yourself. This can be recipes or explanations on how to do things, encouragement, asking or offering help with problems…
But a journal. There’s something uniquely personal about a journal. No other writing is quite as private as what you write between those covers. What you write there is for you, only.
I cannot let go of my pen and paper. I spill my secrets there–I write down memories that make me smile, or cringe. I jot down ideas for stories, lists of things I need to do; I’ve cried on these pages when I’ve felt hopeless, laughed when writing funny experiences, drawn with my nieces and nephews, planned out my future over and over again, never the same way, written out problems and found solutions, copied quotes from lots and lots of favorite books, pressed petals in the pages, and misspelled many an odd word.
And I have thought about leaving it, but I know I would long to return to these pages. Even as I lapse and leave these pages untouched time and time again, I still continuously carry them with me, knowing I’ll return. Because there’s something in my nature that will always return to the pen and the paper. I want the familiar smell and feel of home–of books.
I know now that I can’t stop journaling. Some days I feel like it, because I open up my journal to write down a quote and realize I haven’t written in weeks, and I wonder why I bother?
But see–these blank books, as I fill them and put them away, they remind me of home. Of family. Of experiences. Of my favorite books, and books I’ve forgotten. Of my best days, and my worst days. It gives me a place to come back to, even when I’m far away, or when the weight of the world seems to be on my shoulders, or anxiety is the only thing that seems to fit in my heart. I come back to these pages, and there I spill. I ‘fess. I open up my heart and scribble as much as I wish– plans, goals, hope, love, praise and pain; leaving my worries and fears on the page mixed with tears and ink blots.
That’s why I carry my journal with me. I couldn’t leave it at home any more than I could leave my heart; I have had this ‘silly habit’ for so long now that journaling is as much a part of me as my right hand. No one can say it quite as well as Kafka:
That’s why I journal. Do you journal as well? Tell me, why do you journal?