Finding Inspiration Through Revisiting Journals
I peeked at my journal entries from six months ago and was blown away by what I was experiencing as sheltering-in-place unfolded. In a moment of what must have been sheer despair, I scribbled, “I’m looking forward to what’s sure to be virtually non-existent.”
Then, with time on my hands, I broke into my dusty, neglected storage trunk and unearthed a pile of filled journals, some over forty years old.
We all know that recording thoughts and reflections is an encouraged fundamental practice at MEA. Yet, how often do you go back and read what you have written? I’ve been an intermittent journaler for years starting with a secret diary during my teens. Yet, as the only girl in a household of three brothers, I didn’t trust the flimsy lock and key would keep them from discovering my schoolyard crushes and other private thoughts. I wrote vigorously while in between love affairs or when inspired by travel, where I would fill page after page, punctuated with small illustrations and train timetables. I gravitated towards journals with colorful covers, but rarely filled them more than halfway before setting aside.
The arrival of children in my mid-thirties left little time for journaling about myself. I barely managed to make observations and entries about each child in their designated journals (a blue fairy journal for my daughter; a red dragon for my son). Revisiting these journals with my adult children has been fascinating and insightful. In retrospect, taking the time to reflect on how I was feeling and coping with parenting would have been useful as well!
During the pandemic, my Book Club has been on a memoir-reading binge as a way to escape into other people’s lives. I’ve been gobsmacked at how many writers are able to recall minute details from their early years. Nearly every author referenced their journaling prowess. Par for the course (and to keep the reader’s attention), the memoirists all shared significantly traumatic events in their lives. Most of us can easily remember our life’s highs and lows (graduations, losing our virginity, wedding day, giving birth, etc.), but journal entries reveal more nuanced sentiments on how we were processing just normal daily life. The most TELLING entries express and decipher the delicate emotions and states of mind that often dissolve into the depths of our memory.
Most intriguing to me is how revisiting journals can inform our future. Journalling is a way to acknowledge your intuition. When you look back, you can discern whether your instincts were tracking right. It’s a way to see if you will trust your instincts NOW, especially during this time of upheaval and associative change.
Like our intrepid trailblazer Chip, I am turning 60 this month. I have also been mourning birthday travel and celebration limitations amidst COVID. Reading through past journals has helped pacify my disappointment by allowing me to internally remember and honor all I have overcome and achieved. That may be celebration enough.
Have you written in your journal today? Or in the past week? I encourage you to reflect on your present by revisiting your written past.
Jordana Perman is an MEA Eldergarteners from March, 2019. Born a left-brain thinker in 1960, she currently lives in Portland, Oregon where she actively exercises her right brain.