I found an old journal in the corner of this little orange backpack I take traveling. I love the backpack, first because it is orange and second because it is called “JB World”. Those are my formal initials. I like to think of myself as worldly and love that perhaps someone else recognizes it. The third reason I love this backpack is that it has pockets everywhere and the 4th is that it has wheels. That helps my back.
When I opened the tie to the small brown notebook with a crochet flower on top, I smiled. There were notes on how to find a friends’ house in Manhattan and how to find my nephew in Brooklyn. There was a receipt for the bottle wall at my house that the cement worker signed with an X. He didn’t know how to write. I read some ideas on work I can do that might not suck if I have to pay the bills. There were more receipts with X’s from more workers who never learned to write. I found the number of my Uncle in California with flight details and some short poetry that I will put into my artwork: I embraced my love like the twilight embraces the dawn. How dramatic.
There were some wonderful notes on my dad: The smell of my dad: a combination of wool, cigars, slightly of mothballs, a man’s cologne and the strong smell of love and protection. I felt so happily nostalgic reading that. There was a great introspective research into my memories of him, how wonderful and priceless they were. How wonderful and priceless they are now, reading them again.
There were some funny little sketches of people on the beach and birds and the dogs and a few ideas for yoga sequences. A couple of narratives on how different yoga postures made me feel.
Reading and feeling all this, I noticed that I have not been journaling or documenting how I feel, observing myself in the quiet moments and writing that down. I am focused on my yoga, blogging, my memoir, implementing the things I learned in a business course. There is the relationship, the dogs, the sadness at losing them, the loneliness in the midst of so much. And as the list goes on, I noticed I have allowed things to take over the observance of my life and how I feel.
When this little notebook sort of fell out of my travel bag and I took a few moments alone in the morning to read it, I was reminded that you never get over a need to journal. Well maybe not a need but a benefit from journaling, from that quiet introspection first thing in your day: letting ideas flow, letting memories linger, and allowing those translucent dreams to become solid on your pages. The richness and elegance of a pen in your hand and your writing – how it feels to draw the pen along the paper – not click the keys of your computer or tablet.
I found a peacefulness in that 5 minutes of introspection comparable to the peacefulness I find sitting on my mat and noticing my breath. The smell of the journal, the notes put to paper just for you, the flow of your penmanship: an art form uniquely you, is all a gift. I read notes about my dad, now dead 14 years, and he came back to life. I saw the signatures on receipts from projects that were dreams in my head that brought the creative process alive again. I saw drawings that inspired art that gave me joy. I remembered things that, in reading them again, made me richer and happier. Reading my journal, I remembered why I started, forgot why I stopped and made a commitment to start again.
It is not a heavy thing. It is something that brings depth and art and a tapestry of emotions to life. Think about starting one yourself. First find a nice little notebook that makes you smile and that feels good in your hands. Just the purchase is a treat. I like one small enough to fit into a pocket or one that is flexible enough to roll into my handbag. Second, find a nice pen. I love a sharpee fine point. They are not too expensive and they are fun. I like different colors – maybe just 2 or 3 since if you are sketching, it is nice to have an accent color. And then just take a moment and play. Morning is a time you can generally take for yourself. Ideas flow well. Perhaps you can document your dreams. Your feelings are sometimes purer. Your heart is often more open.
Through the day, I carry the journal with me. Who knows? If you have to wait 20 minutes, you can write about how angry you are to be waiting. Or the color of the sky that day or sketch a couple holding hands across the street or the dog sleeping in the shade in front of the café where you are waiting. The nice thing is, you start to notice your surroundings. You don’t just grab your I-phone and look for someone else to fill your momentary time void. You become present. You do the same thing you do on the mat when you are breathing into a pose. Your journal becomes your prop for being in the moment, for thinking, for taking a pen to paper, and for remembering the poignant beauty of a moment that will never be repeated. A moment that held a feeling that may give you great joy when you open that page and read about it again