Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dear Diary... (Entry One)

Just to make myself clear, I have not turned into a sentimental, Jane Austen die-hard (although I admittedly enjoy the occasional chic flick inspired by the 18th & 19th century English novelist).  In addition, the fact that I'm writing a post condoning the keeping of a journal or diary does not make me a some kind of "romantic."  Isn't it interesting (and even amusing) how discussions about journaling seem like they ought to be had as you sip tea and nibble on a scone while sitting comfortably on a quilt, enjoying the picturesque countryside from a hilltop in England?  Thank you, Hollywood!

Think about some of your favorite books, movies or stories.  There's a good chance that at least one that came to mind is either a true story, or at least inspired by one. There's also a good chance that the story came directly from some kind of personal record of the account by the main character, whether documented in a book, or narrated by means of a personal diary or journal.  Either way, I have come to greatly appreciate, and even treasure those personal accounts from people of the past.  It's not just because I'm always up for a good story.  But, it's also in a large part due to the admirable lessons to be learned from the investment, the true discipline of regularly recording the happenings in one's life.

Journaling is a discipline that, for the most part, has been a constant in my life for upward of seven years now, and in those years my journals have taken different twists and turns.  When I first started journaling, I was primarily extrinsically motivated.  I wanted an award through a father/son program my dad and I had joined, and the requirement was to journal for a full year, all 365 consecutive days without skipping a day.  Well, it's quite difficult to do something every day for a year and it not become a habit!  After that first year went by and I had reached my goal, I found that apart from the tangible reward of a ribbon, I actually came to enjoy journaling.  I looked forward to each evening when I would plop down on my bed or sit at my desk and write about the important adventures of the day.

Early years of journaling were generally characterized by the simple activities in life (A church family came over for dinner tonight...  Dad and I played ping pong for an hour...  A tree fell on the fence, the chainsaw is broken, and the goats escaped...).  Short spiritual lessons and verses were usually mentioned, but I was largely what I'd like to call a "skittle scribe," taking the little morsels of fun from the day and boiling them down to happy one-liners.  Depth would not describe those novice entries.

However, about two or three years later, what I ate for lunch and who I played with at church just didn't seem to be that big of a deal any more.  My daily accounts took a more pensive turn, which led to a chronicling of memories, lessons, mistakes, insights, fears, thoughts, feelings, and dreams.  I began to see value and potential in this journal-keeping thing.  My perspective changed.  My motivation changed.

In my next entry, I'm going to delve deeper into my amended motivation and why my frame of reference steered my pen from rote repetition to a more fluid, creative recording of introspections.  I'll talk about reasons for journaling, practical and spiritual.  And, I'll also discuss the potential impact that journaling has, both personally and generationally.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Something Along That Line

Eleven months is entirely too long to leave one's blog absent, I think.  It's not that I haven't thought about my blog at all during that time.  Believe me, I've often kicked myself for letting an enlivening, fulfilling, stimulating and (hopefully) productive habit slip away.  But, I have not completely forgotten it.  Really, I don't have alzheimer's - just "sometimers!"

Nonetheless, I have a renewed desire to once again put the metaphorical pencil to paper, to put script to screen.  And to what can I credit this rededication?  A board game, actually.  Scrabble.  Well, perhaps the credit can't go entirely to that entertaining culmination of chance, skill, anagrams and crosswords, but the mystery of strategically arranging letters and fusing words kindled an old flame.  Letters led to words, which led to thoughts, which led to ideas and... yes, well, you get the point.  Contemplating the chemistry of thought construction and articulation evolved into one powerful mental teaser to propose a challenge to the wishful wordsmith within me.

This is a new season of life for me.  I'm eight months into my first professional job, 14 months into a courtship with a beautiful young woman named Anna, and many, many more months into an ever-changing, always growing, increasingly challenging obstacle course that starts from the womb and ends in the grave: Life.  Every day I realize just a little bit more that this course requires training.  Constantly.  There's a race to be won, a battle to be fought, and each day's run and each day's battle reveals yet another area that requires conditioning.

I recently began training in Krav Maga, the Israeli-based combat and defense system.  As I've been forcing my body through strenuous exercises and drills to hone my physical ablities, it has forced me to examine my attitude concerning spiritual, intellectual and emotional discipline.  Do I get as excited to challenge my intellectual abilities as I do to test my stamina?  Am I as thrilled to particpate in a spiritual discipline as I am to box with a fellow trainee?

A large part of the purpose of this blog is to provide a means of motivation to articulate my contemplations; to construct a venue to voice the results of my inward conditioning.  New seasons bring new challenges to face, of which I'm finding to require greater and greater spiritual strength.  I want to be able to say that I'm a stronger person in my heart, soul and mind from my study of Scripture, worldview, the church, history, science and philosophy, which I pray will be evident in my words to come.  I'm a workman, studying to show myself approved.

In the technological age, full of information and media, my blog will be insignificant compared to the volume of lines devoted to the questions, answers, challenges, discipline, joys and goals of life, but it's an attracting thought to contribute to a larger composition.  Will my line matter in the universal book of opinion and dialogue?  Maybe not.  But, if it stimulates conversation, provokes feeling, stirs emotion, challenges assumptions and confirms values, for me or others, in my mind it will be worth it.  So, here's to a little line on the world's page.  My line.  Or, something along that line.