Ralph Waldo Emerson was the one who set the stage for journaling, creating what was a new genre at that time. While at Harvard, Emerson began his lifelong practice of keeping a journal. He regarded them as his “savings bank,” where he could express and examine ideas without public exposure. He also wrote poetry in his journals and illustrated many of his pages professing his early “hunger and thirst to be a painter. “
Diary is considered more of a day-to-day quick referencing of what may have happened in a twenty-four-hour period. Depending upon the size of one’s diary, most only had room to be said in ten words or less. As an early teen, I began with tiny Hallmark pocketbook annual calendars. By late teens and into early twenties, I moved to a ‘pocket’ size datebook and learned to write smaller, cramping in more words, using made-up abbreviations I later couldn’t decipher even if I were highly trained in the world of espionage decoding.
As time pressed on, so did the way I needed to express my thoughts. I discovered journals, lovely, lively journals. I found out a journal is a journey. One moment in a day, one small experience can be taken to several pages and can make a thought dig a deep well into what is truly on a person’s mind. It invites space to ramble, scribble pictures, imagine, discover, and come back to as readable references, such as Emerson’s “savings bank”.
Recently I dug through my past diaries, tossed 1972-1978. The tiny colorful Hallmarks were long gone, not leaving much of a ‘hallmark’ in my life. I name my journals as to what I might or hope to discover, and mostly, be surprised as I write into this new journey, the smooth and untouched empty pages anxiously awaiting. My journal is an expansion, a self-reflection of me and things around me. It allows me to be comfortable in telling what I want to say, and oftentimes, just to visit with myself.
Back to dear old Emerson, I took note of that “savings bank” when I wrote the piece Love’s Transitions in Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets. This is not the first piece published from my exploration into my journals. Poetry has sprung to life, essays of family, and downright funny stories. This tool is a fascinating way to journey through ‘your’ trip with time.
If you have a journal, give time to it. If not, there is one waiting just for you.