I’m a compulsive journaler, a habitual record-keeper. I knew this about myself already, but it wasn’t until my sister-in-law asked me this week about my journaling methods (and my madness) that I had a chance to confront the problem in detail. This is what it looks like:
I’ve been keeping a hand-written journal daily since I was 11 years old. I have dozens of books filled with my daily actions and thoughts and emotions. Those volumes are much more turmoil and tedium than I can possibly contemplate re-reading. Someday, someone might, and I hope I am good and dead when they do it. If I’m not, I will probably die of embarrassment by the time they got to volume 2. I persist in writing, however, not only to record the thoughts and events of my life, of course, but also to sort and store my emotions and confusion.
If I just kept a daily, personal journal, that would probably be enough to keep me sane and self-reflective, but since I crave outside recognition as well, I started writing a family blog soon after Micah and I got married. This is less personal, less emotionally laden, more event-driven, and more for family and friends who are keeping tabs on us from a distance. It is also, I hope, more fun to read.
Then, just because I’m crazy, I started this blog as well. It is slightly less journalistic, but definitely follows the ups and downs of our lives. I try to post things that are not entirely specific to my family here. I hope that there is something relatable for parents, runners, and those who love them. Or at least a good story or something thought-provoking or inspiring.
It doesn’t stop there. The new people in my life need journals, too, and if I don’t keep them, who will? I try to write in them 4 times a year: at birthdays and New Years. I write about their interests and fun/funny things they do, what is going on in their lives, who their friends are, what we are struggling with and what we are proud of. That kind of thing. And that’s in addition to the baby books that record all their milestones and such. Their lives are well-recorded.
After that it’s just random notes and notebooks in various places. Some on my phone, some in notebooks, some on scraps of paper. These are mostly ideas I jot down on the bus, or notes I take on talks and speeches and lessons – thoughts on things to write about, or ways I can improve my life, or funny things to share with Micah when I see him next.
But that doesn’t include the photos, which have evolved from “supplemental material” to a journaling method in itself . . . .
I wonder at times if all or any of it will mean anything to anyone down the road. But even if it isn’t, I’ll do it anyway because it means something to me to be my family’s historian/documentarian/journalist/photographer/record-keeper. I like it. I enjoy it. I think it is important to tell the family’s story, or to have a family story to tell, to share, to relate to, to improve upon.
What about you? Do you keep a journal? Are you organized about it? Is keeping a record important to you? Or do you immerse yourself in the experience, enjoy it as it’s happening, and call it good?