I have just been rereading all my journal entries from the past year, and I tell you now without a trace of modesty that I am really enjoying reading them. I am funny and smart and insightful! When did that happen? Why wasn’t I informed? I am truly amazed.
I can’t quite explain the huge kick I get out of this discovery, but it has something to do with this: having grown a lot in the past year, I’ve forgotten a little just how cool I was already before all these changes occurred. That is to say, each time I hit a new milestone, I forget that there was another one that preceded it, and one that preceded that, so that the entire history of my personal development has been one awesome change after another.
Also, my surprise has something to do with this: I think of journaling as something I do very much in the moment: stuff comes to me and I write it down. Or: stuff happens to me and I write down how I feel about it. Or: something’s going on in my head that day and I need a place to work out what it is. Then, going back to my old entries, I am stunned to find that there are coherent patterns and recurrent themes moving through these ostensibly ephemeral jottings. Enjoyment of history classes? Now I’m at grad school in history. Posting photos and book reviews online? Now I have my own site, and I derive much pleasure from updating it regularly. I am startled to see that entries detailing what I thought were epiphanies of the moment have now been deeply integrated into my worldview and life philosophy. Quite simply, I’m taken aback to see the extent to which my entries from a year ago reflect the person I am today.
I guess it’s just a bit of a shock to see firsthand the way in which all the little bits and pieces of what we call life, so random and seemingly unimportant, add up over time to form our character. We aren’t usually privileged enough to witness this; instead, we start at Point A and then years later find ourselves as Point B, with no idea of how we got there. But thanks to this journal, I know how I got here. I can read it for myself, in my own words, and see my own photos commemorating it, and read the comments of all my friends who have helped me through. I know the events that brought me here, and the thoughts and feelings I experienced along the way. I know what was going on in the world that shaped my little individual experience, and I know how I responded. My Berkeley yoga teacher Martin said it well when I showed him the entries in my journal that concerned Inner Heat: “That’s quite an amazing thing you have going there.”
It is. It really is.
[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]