“Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.”
– Henry Miller
Sometimes I wonder if the folks who read this journal might believe that I have a certain kind of life, maybe even a charmed life? one that is brimming with celebration, laughter, beautiful friends, few worries. In a way, this is true. (There are so many ways to tell a story) And yet, it is also a choice, what I choose to tell.
What is the story we want to tell about our life?
What are the stories we want to remember when we’re old?
This journal is often the place of forgetting for me. The place where I am reminded (through sharing) of the beauty of the world, of the colors and brilliant landscapes, of the talent and wisdom of artists, writers and friends.
I’ve kept journals for most of my life, and most of them are downright depressing. They are wrought with struggle, confusion, insecurity and sharp pain. They are utterly excruciating to read now. (I’m sure you all have similar journals?!) It seems that I was only inspired to write when I was going through something really painful, so that is what I am left with – a collection of painful stories. It doesn’t really tell the whole truth. (Were my 20’s that bad?)
Several years ago, I decided to keep a visual journal, one with few words, but full of photographs, quotes, tickets stubs, candy wrappers, wishes, drawings and love notes. It became a quilt of my experience, and told a completely different story. These journals are more like footprints of my life (without the judgment and cynicism of the moment) simply tracks, things that passed through. It gave texture to my remembering. It felt wider and more full. It allowed for more joy.
The heartfelt venting, the rants, the spills. This is all good stuff and I still do this. It clears the air. Sometimes we must start there.
But I am learning, (through a personal essay class with the brilliant Laurie Wagner) that somewhere deep inside, perhaps just a little bit deeper, is a story that is even more interesting to tell. It might not be pretty, but it might tell a whole truth, a wider truth, a more beautiful truth, however painful.