I’ve been journaling for as long as I can remember. Literally. As soon as I could spell I started keeping a diary. In the midst of a difficult childhood, it became the only way that I could safely process my thoughts and feelings.
As time went on and life got more complicated I still turned to this almost daily habit whenever life got overwhelming, but as a busy young mother, my entries became more of a listing of important events, a record of firsts and childhood achievements I didn’t want to forget. I sort of lost my ability to translate my feelings right around the time I lost the ability to remember that I had any.
Out of necessity I suppose, my journals became a chronicle of the chaos that defined my life.
I kept journaling and blogging, published two novels and started writing for various print and online magazines, but life never slowed down. It’s just a different kind of busyness now, and yet I keep using my journal as a list of things that are happening in my life, as if I’m trying to create a timeline. As if someone is actually going to go back and piece it together some day and hang it on a long piece of string across their kitchen, with little wooden clothes pins to mark the significant events. Maybe on the surface all journals are just timelines, but with any luck they also connect us to who we are and why we’re here.
“Out of necessity, I suppose,
my journals became a chronicle of the chaos
that defined my life.”
On long motorcycle trips I bring along my journal with the intention of capturing the sights and smells and sounds of the road, but rarely succeed in translating more than a tiny percentage of the key words and places that might help to bring me back some day. Back to what it felt like. Back to the memories that don’t actually exist on paper, but only in my mind. Writing down the bones, Natalie Goldberg called it. And maybe that’s enough. I keep secretly hoping that in my twilight years I’ll come back to these memories, help them to make sense, put them in context, and make them real for people. Maybe even offer some wisdom for the next weary traveler. I have so much travel on the books this year that I sometimes wonder how I will find the time to write more than the pieces of these experiences, but then I have to remind myself.
It’s the pieces of the puzzle that make it fit. That make it whole.
Time marches on, and I keep on journaling. I keep on riding.
Piece by piece.
Mile by mile.
Pinning up significant events. Feeling what it feels like to feel.
Hoping that the pieces and the miles will join together into a road map. A timeline, of sorts.
The story of my life…