It never ceases to amaze me how important journaling is to my life, as well as the lives of many others. It’s absolutely astounding, because a journal serves an entirely unique and different purpose for every person who keeps one. This girl from my high school used to have this handmade journal that she took to school with her and sometimes in the middle of class she would just get up, dart out and grab some paint from the art room, return and add some art to her journal. The teachers never minded because 1.) They were all really cool alternative school teachers who respected her emotionally healthy lifestyle and 2.) She was keeping up with her studies. For her, a journal wasn’t just about writing down what happened to you or venting or fawning over the cute guy next door. It probably served that purpose at times, but from my understanding, her journal was a second manifestation of herself. She cut and pasted pictures from magazines and newspapers in it, painted and drew and sometimes wrote. It was much more ambiguous and universal than people expect journals to be, and it was so different than my own journals.
My own journals were much more linear than hers and sometimes I wished they could be as broad and artistic as hers, because I really envied her ability to express herself using both words and pictures. All I had was words. Also, I never made my own journals. I would save up and spend $40 on handmade, Italian leather journals with beautiful, crisp, warm yellow paper. It made me feel like a pretentious asshole, but I really loved those journals. I filled their pages with documentations of my life experiences, and with philosophies about life and descriptions of people who mattered to me, so I’d never forget them.
It took awhile for me to realize exactly how significant my seemingly mundane retellings of my daily experiences really were. Something about that style of journaling seemed so superficial and trivial to me and it wasn’t until an entry I wrote sometime in the summer after my sophomore year of high school that I finally realized the importance of writing about everyday life. Things had gotten really bad that year and I’d almost killed myself that March. I’d been experiencing some upwards motion with my recovery though and that day in summer, I’d turned back to the entry I wrote from that spring. It would’ve been the last entry I ever wrote if I’d killed myself then, and in that moment, I realized that between March 6th and July 19th, there was a hefty handful of pages.
Within that handful of pages, I had made new friends, met inspirational people, been to the tops of mountains (literally as well as metaphorically) and experienced so many more small but monumentally life-changing moments that I am forever grateful to be able to call a part of my story. What I came to understand then, was that none of those moments would’ve happened if I’d killed myself that day in March. My story would’ve been cut short and I’d have missed out on everything that happened between the pages I was holding in my hand. I counted, and there are 102 pages of life and learning between March 6th, 2013, and July 19th, 2013.
There is life and meaning, even in the darker moments of your story. The entries I wrote seemed so trivial sometimes, because they were often literally just documentations of the everyday. What I didn’t realize is that every day is magical and sometimes those experiences are valuable simply because they happened– because you let them happen. Life goes on without us whether we want it to or not. There may be times when it feels too meaningless or too empty or too heavy, but those beautiful moments will find us even if we don’t look for them or see them coming, and when they do, they will bring meaning and depth and that weight will lift off.
March 6th, 2013 was certainly not the last day I felt like writing my final chapter. There were many more of those to come, but today, July 30th, 2015, there are 3 entire journals more of beautiful moments, thoughts and memories. I don’t know how many pages that is, because I haven’t counted, but I don’t think it matters, because what’s important is that I got the chance to experience those and even if some of those entries were mundane and ordinary, they still happened, and I am so grateful and happy for that.