I've always kept a journal. Even if I haven't always remained consistent - in fact I rarely have - there's always a journal on my bookshelf or hidden beneath the unmentionables in my drawer. A few months ago, I pulled my journal from my shelf and decided "I want to commemorate some shit." That's definitely legitimately what I said. But what I meant was: I've have all these memories over the years and I tell people about them, but I'm much better with written words and much better in the moment. And now, nearly 6 months after beginning, I'm so proud of my little book of memories and dreams and goals all written under the haze of the morning hours.
What's kept me in the habit of journaling regularly? Well, first, I'm not perfect. I've missed days, and even a whole week, in some cases. But for the most part, I maintain some semblance of consistency by writing with purpose. Instead of writing these open-ended entries, I address them to my future daughter, which makes it all feel much more intimate and meaningful. Here's my first entry back in January:
I really hope I called you that. I also hope you’re a little girl because otherwise, that’s an awkward introduction. Yet, in the grand scheme, it wouldn’t really matter much. What I have to say - it’d still be the same thing.
I am writing to let you know that I am just like you. Lost and scared and a little unsure, but also excited and happy and full of so much passion. And I want to document who I am now, for myself. For you. So you can know this me. No matter what I’ve become (hopefully, that’s someone you are proud of), this is who I am now.
Yesterday, my dad called me at two in the morning, as is normal for us, and he asked me to jot down a quote. “Sometimes people that have never imagined anything at all, can do things that no one can imagine.” He said that it was me. The thing that no one can imagine, the thing he never imagined at all. It made me smile. He said that even when he’s long gone, there’s me. My dad always says stuff like this. He’s a talker. And when he says things like that he never fails to make me feel so loved. It’s his thing, talking. And I thought - that’s what I’ll miss most about him - his voice. I asked him if he had a tape recorder, so he could record himself, so I’d always have his voice. Of course, he refused; said that I’ll hear him even clearer when he’s gone. If you’ve met him (& I really hope you have!), you know he’s the most stubborn man on earth.
But it got me thinking about what I’ll leave behind. Dad has his voice. My expression is my words, my stories. But somehow that doesn’t seem like enough. Sure, I’ll have my accomplishments. Hopefully, I’ll have at least published one book, and perhaps I’ll have figured out what else I want to do. But it will all be filtered, edited, watered down. My characters are me, but they are also very much, not me. This is me. Without all the other things, the truest form of me. And I may not know you yet, but I know I want to be true with you.
I hope this inspires you to begin journaling. If you need a little more of a push, check out this Skylights article I wrote last month about how I made journaling a habit!