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.


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