What if there was a place that you could safely crash and burn or explore a lost world without it actually creating consequential ripples in your real life?
There is. It’s called a journal.
Now, hang with me on this. You DON’T have to be a writer to journal! I’ve always identified myself as a writer to my very core, but there are days (sometimes weeks and even months) I don’t want to write beautifully-crafted, thought-provoking, perfectly-formatted prose.
There are many craggy mornings when, coffee in one hand and a grading “red” pen in the other, all I can do is jot down a word or phrase. Many, many of my days are spent creating lists: those strangely personalized columns of thoughts, to-dos, groceries, and lesson plans that appear on the ends of envelopes and Post-its. Some of my lists have bullets and are color-coded if I’m feeding my inner-artist that day; some are nothing but the word itself – often all I can manage in my crazy little world.
Journaling is by no means a new concept. I started this blog as a way to be responsible for my progress, and while it acts as a journal, the thoughts and meditations here are much more polished than in my personal journal. In my personal journal, I’m raw, honesty-to-the-ugly, and unfinished. My daily thoughts pour out onto the digital page without rules or perimeters: no grammar, no punctuation, no corrections, and most importantly – no judgment. I have always offered this freedom to my students in the form of ten-minute writing prompts in which nothing matters save the act of writing what in the mind at that moment, but I only recently gave myself the same gift of freedom. My journal has become a safe place to unleash everything in me – both the wily demons and “the better angels of our nature” (Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address).
I can crash and burn on my journal page – every single day – if I need to. It’s cathartic. It’s cleansing.
There’s also a really amazing upside: post-scripting. What do I mean by post-scripting? Being able to go back and read my thoughts, meditations, dreams, and progress from months ago bequeaths a whole new perceptive, and I love that in my rereading, I often find the clarity and affirmation that comes with hindsight.
I document those hindsights as “postscripts” – added thoughts to the original entry, which I always date. Some of my entries have three or four postscripts of invaluable tools gifted from self-examination, honesty, and a little bit of time. I’m finding that as I really examine the choices I make and who I am, these tools become not only essential but also a deep part of my internal happiness. I love being able to see myself clearly. I love examining myself at a distance, something that I have struggled with for years. (There’s an archetypal theme for you – who we are in our reality versus who we are in everyone else’s reality.)
I am learning that to be healthy and happy, the changes must occur in our own reality – the world we create in ourselves – and journaling has become a way for me to create and craft a better world.
I hope that even if you don’t think of yourself as a writer, that you will think of yourself as the Indiana Jones of your world: an adventurer, a finder of lost treasures, and an immortal student of yourself.
We each deserve to find our lost world.