As I’ve written elsewhere, I love to journal. I’ve been doing so, poorly, since about 1985. As such, it has not been an uncommon thing to receive new journals at Christmas or for birthdays. It’s especially meaningful when my boys buy new journals for me. My younger son, Graeme, bought my last one. It is now full of my life; spillings of poetry, life musings and assorted literary brick-a-brack. I used a bookmark he once made for my wife that, along with his delightful pre-pubescent picture on it also contains the words “I love you Mom!” How could that not be life changing?
What follows is a typical example of what I might write in any given journal, especially a new one. And, as you shall see, there is no small irony in the sharing thereof.
“I wonder how many times I’ve had the experience of pen on paper, the brand new journal? Most notable is that both my sons have purchased new journals for me; Graeme a few years ago and now, this Christmas, mere hours ago, my older son, Calum. It is beautiful, leather bound and handmade in India (I guess, in the interest of appreciation for the thoughtfulness of my son, I’ll temporarily suspend my moral suspicion as to who may have constructed it!).
My spotty, irregular journalling discipline would be a poor picture indeed of how deeply meaningful it is for me. Yet, in spite of that fact I know so little about the art of creative chronicling one’s life journey. The greatest benefit of journalling is also its greatest challenge: slowing down long enough to consider, carefully and lovingly, one’s pilgrimage with God and others. It is one thing to write about life events. It is quite another to probe and record one’s thoughts assiduously, faithfully, prayerfully.
Even blogging, something else I enjoy immensely, is fast-paced by comparison, hampered only by the pace of my not inconsiderable typing skills. The sheer number of available words per minute on computer may in fact be counter-intuitive to the deeper interiority asked of me in writing out those same words.
What is it about our contemporary, Western mindset that demands such unsustainable productivity? Even as I write this I find myself thinking how much less efficient it is to write these words only to type them again an hour later for the benefit of my blog. Moreover, I can only surmise at the diminished capacity for memory and ongoing, dynamic interaction with my own interior life because of the ease of a ‘save’ button.
To sit quietly for long periods of time with small things, few words or simple thoughts is vanishing quickly from our cultural milieu. For our experience of time and space to provide enough interest it must be liberally peppered with constant stimuli, a veritable banquet of over-the-top sensory memorabilia. We are both products and victims of our own infantile detritus.
Anyway, I must now move on as this entry has taken much longer to write than the length of time it would take me to mindlessly watch a sit-com, fast forwarding through the commercials…