Friday, August 19, 2016
I asked my mother once why she kept a journal. She dodged the question by riposting, "How do I know what I think till I see what I say?" And when, later along, I asked her how she would like me to deal with her journals once she was dead, she said simply, "Burn them." At the time, I can remember feeling a small lurch within: How could anyone create and collect all that effort and then wipe it clean with flames? Surely it was all something to treasure and savor and, well, you know ... kind of honor or something.
But now my mother is dead and my cellar is repository to my own "journals" -- a habit I probably got from my mother. And like her, I too say, "burn them." Since I rarely if ever go back to earlier times those pages represent, why should anyone else care much one way or another? This question is not a bid for sympathy or a desire to have others somehow 'reassure' me. The universe may have been shattered or exalted at one time or another, but the universe takes a longer view and is laced with more uncritical laughter... as if it were saying, "There, there, dear. It wasn't as bad/good as all that, was it?"
Nowadays, I keep a blog with the same "dear diary" habituation I once kept a journal. I feel, when writing it, as if I were hiding in plain sight. Isn't part of a journal-esque effort the desire to have a place in which to get naked ... or, alternatively, to camouflage that nakedness that no one can escape? I think so. And the reason for going public is pretty much an exercise in recognizing that even I am not that interested in my own thoughts. At the moment, certain circumstances may be pretty compelling, but shaping and configuring that moment with words is a way of allowing others to recognize a little the fact that everyone doesn't have to be THAT kind of fool.
Poof! Easy come, (and sometimes) easy go.
I do like journal-writing in the sense that it teaches the impossibility of words -- words to describe or confine or define. Words don't reach and there's no point in complaining about it. But maybe it's worth noticing when you consider how much we use and seem to rely on words.
Getting used to the fact that words are wonderful-but-fall-short-of-experience ... I like to practice that. If you doubt it, just try the simple sentence, "I love you." That ought to frost your cookies.