This week I’m participating in a journaling challenge set by the people at Asian Efficiency.
Day 3’s challenge is to write down why journaling is important to you. This was going to be a short entry, but it somehow turned into a blog post.
Why?I’ve kept a journal on and off since I was 9 or 10 years old. I don’t know why I started. Maybe I was inspired by Anne Frank’s diary. I can remember how she called her diary Kitty, and so my first journals had a name too (which I’m not going to reveal here because that would be embarrassing.)
There have been times I’ve done it more or less every day. There have been times where there have been gaps of several months. But I’ve always come back to it.
Up until July 2005 I kept a paper journal and I’d stick stuff in it. Ticket stubs, brochures, little bits and pieces that I gathered. I have a box full of those dating back to the 1980s.
In July 2005 I started my first digital journal, documenting what was supposed to be my journey to weight loss and health. Somewhat unexpectedly, six months in it became a pregnancy journal, and I wanted to record everything about my experience because this wasn’t something I ever planned to repeat.
The pregnancy journal morphed into a day to day account of my life as a new mother, my struggles with breastfeeding, my attempts to process a birth experience that had left me angry, upset and unfulfilled.
And I just kept going. Everything he said, everything he did I recorded because I never wanted to forget anything. Children change and grow so quickly. Before you know it your baby is walking, talking, at school, reading, writing, and learning swear words. Where does that time go?
I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to record as much as I can about both my life and his. In recent years my Twitter feed has become part of it. My daily ramblings about the little things that are my life right now.
One reason for doing this is that I take a lot of photos and my journal records the stories behind a lot of them so that when I come to do a scrapbook page or Project Life spread I (theoretically) know what the photo is about and what to write.
So the two are linked. Two forms of memory keeping. (I can add in a third, movies, which is another level altogether.)
And it comes back to why? Why do I take excessive quantities of photos? Why do I keep a huge journal? Why do I scrapbook? What’s the point?
This question has come at an interesting time, because it’s at least the third time this week I’ve read something that has stressed the importance of finding your “why?”. You are, so the story goes, more likely to achieve your goals if you know why you want to achieve them. You’re more likely to stick to your desired habits if you know why you want to behave like that.
So I journal, take photos, scrapbook so I can have a record of my life. But why? Why do I want a record? Will it matter in 10 years time that I drank coffee after lunch yesterday and got really jittery? Will I care that Juniordwarf wrecked the box of cards he just bought?
In the big picture no, but if I ever want to look back and know what my life was like on a daily basis in 2015, know what the little things were that were a big deal at the time, I’ll be able to do that. A photo of a building that I see every day before it’s demolished and the streetscape changes forever. A tweet about something Juniordwarf said that made me laugh. An entry about how much I enjoyed a dinner or a concert. Little moments that make up my life.
It’s a record for me to look back on, to remember what Juniordwarf was like, things that were once important to me, things I did, places I went, what my life used to be like.
Perhaps I’ll never read it again. Maybe some day Juniordwarf will read it and it will help him to understand me, and even himself, better. His world might be very different to how it is now, so he’ll be able to get a feel for what his life was like in the 2010s. I wish I had a more complete record of life in the 1970s. If nothing else, I’d have evidence to call bullshit on those Facebook posts that say how much better life was in the 70s because our mothers smoked when they were pregnant, no one wore bike helmets and we all played in the traffic until dinner time.
Maybe he’ll never read it either. But it will be there.
My journal also acknowledges the hard times, and can help me to see how far I’ve come (or that I haven’t moved on). Sometimes it just helps to write out how I’m feeling about something to process it and work out what to do next.
Taking it further I think a journal could help me to identify patterns that keep me stuck and to record my progress in making changes I want to make. Maybe even to help keep me accountable to myself.
So the why is twofold. To keep a record, basically for the sake of having those memories preserved for myself (and my family if they want them). And as an outlet for learning, reflecting, taking stock, processing, exploring, creating, expressing gratitude.
And because I just love to write.