Journal Keeping

I’m a certified terrible journal-keeper. I know several great journalers, people who have been writing and reflecting their way through life–some of them “writers” and some of them writers. Recently I was exchanging emails with the fabulous journaler and writer Kathleen Dean Moore (I’m not dropping names, honest–I had contacted her about possibly coming to speak at WKU). I mentioned that I was going to the Peruvian Amazon and she said something to the effect, “Oh, that must be such a wonderful opportunity for journaling.” It rather took my breath because a) she’s right and b) it’s another missed opportunity, which I immediately added to my very large collection. (By the way, I store these in an Earth-friendly shopping bag in my trunk underneath jumper cables, leaves, old sweatshirts, some crumpled concert programs, several plastic bottles waiting to be recycled, and an array of brown and white bags with who knows what additional decaying opportunities. I rarely look in the bag and for that matter don’t know if it’s still there.)

Another great journaler is my friend and colleague Trish, who has been keeping (and keeping) journals since she was a child. She too is a terrific writer, so I am sure that the connection between keeping journals and enhancing the craft of writing is profound. No end of books on “how to” would seem to affirm that. Other reasons for journaling, according to what I hear, include

1. healing
2. finding out who we are, at this time, in this place
3. creating a record for our progeny (who may write term papers using our 20-something drama rambles as primary texts)
4. understanding what’s going on–without writing it down, it may just mish-mash in our minds, knocking into other things, bruising and rising to the surface distorted and betrayed
5. feeling the joy of letters and words flowing from the nib of a pen, magic
6. exercising our creative spirit so it doesn’t languish

I suppose there are more, but that’s what I can think of right now, without consulting google or my bookshelves.

I have a few journals from now and then and I suppose I’ll keep them, but I don’t know why. I’ll never be famous and no tenure-track professor will ever discover them, giddy with excitement, in a box in the archives at Duke.

What I do rather like, at least today, is putting a few pictures and thoughts on this blog. I don’t think I’ll reflect much on the great events of the day–others do that so much better. Like my friend Mike Rivage-Seul What seems somehow worth my effort (in Mike’s words, “things that matter”), much more than sitting in contentious (or even congenial ones, which is actually more accurate for the good place I work) committee meetings where we are dividing scarce resources among projects we care about or trying to figure out how to make “it” work, this project called Education . . . is the noticing of little things going on around me. (and that’s what you call a long-ass sentence)

I think recognizing small features of the day, the place, the mind, and giving them a little nod to show we love them might just be what being 60 means to me.

Me on the Oroso, a tributary of the Amazon, journaling just once

Me on the Oroso, a tributary of the Amazon, journaling just once

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