…this precious paper
Journaling these days can take many forms. There are the gratitude-focused journal-keepers, there are those who revive the timeless craft of scrap-booking with creative-journaling, there are those who actively listen to the earth through nature journaling and the classic “dear diary” kind of journal keepers. I personally love to frolic through all the styles, but I definitely sit predominantly in the “dear diary” camp.
I first started dragging tattered notebooks around with me in my late teens. Those early books are filled with emotionally saturated musings of a starving Uni Student, and are for the most part pretty cringe-worthy to read back though! But at the time of writing, I was pouring out what I needed to pour out to keep what was left in my cup nice and clear.
There’s nothing particularly noteworthy in the books, and much of it is indecipherable out of context, but it doesn’t matter.
At the time it was everything that I needed, the process was noteworthy and in terms of its impact, it was bloody well next to divine. And while it was an awesome journey for my younger self, I’m now left with a pile of mainly unintelligible scribbles in cheap exercise books, kind of like when your Brother goes on an awesome holiday and brings you back a plastic snow dome.
However cringe-worthy, these tattered old diaries became absolutely precious to me. I don’t really love reading them, maybe I’m still not far enough away from that version of me in space-time to view the intimate musings with love and objectivity, but I have been carting them around the world with me for more than half of my life anyway!
They’re kind of like photo albums of my brain, where my immature grey matter is dolled up in a boob tube and green eye shadow in every picture.
But anyway, they are precious to me, mainly in loving appreciation of the clarity and daily peace they have helped me to achieve. I’ve written my way to mindfulness and a sense of calm for so long that it has become a habit, and it all started with those scrappy exercise books.
Now, here’s where the plot thickens…
12 months ago my little family and I moved house. Just to the next suburb, to be closer to a school. My partner, Nic, and I are the jolly brazen type, we’ll jump headfirst and smiling into most situations expecting good-will and integrity on masse, and usually, that works out well for us, but sometimes it works out very badly. On this occasion, on a whim, we rushed into this cute and cozy new house without any major inspections being done.
One Month into our time at the new house there was a torrential downpour. We were marooned at a kid’s Christmas event at the time…
Soggy Santas everywhere.
We returned home to find out that some major flooding had occurred and half of the house had been underwater. As it turns out, a sunken yard at the bottom of a hill doubles as a community storm water collection point, who knew? (Yeah, Shaddup!)
As far as we could tell at first glance there was nothing precious amongst the drippy mess.. except, a large box full of journals. In our haste to keep up with busy-2-kid-life, we hadn’t finished unpacking all our belongings by this stage, and the journals were in an unusually nonchalant spot on the day of the flooding, at the bottom of a pile of boxes in the garage.
I slowly pulled them out of the box to assess the damage, and it was a total massacre.
I hadn’t looked at many of the books for years, and pulling them out now to watch them perish was agonising. I got proactive and slipped sheets of paper between the 100s of pages so the books didn’t fuse together completely, then I got busy with the hairdryer.
Adding to the torment, I had an unusual penchant for writing in brown ink in my 20’s, which along with looking really cool, has the extraordinary capability of disappearing completely once wet and dried under the hairdryer. I watched hours and hours of passionate words and playful sketches from my younger self disappearing before my eyes, yeah, that was a bit heartbreaking.
My Son remembers that day well, he was 5 at the time and he still says, “You cry sometimes too, Mum. Remember when you cried about your books?” Yeah, Mums do cry sometimes, Buddy.
In all their unintelligible, angsty glory, I had wanted to pass these old books onto my kids one day. I would have loved to peek through a window into my Mumma’s noggin’ as she flourished into the wonderful Woman that she is today.
I did keep what remained of the books, even tattier than before, only half the content remaining, maybe slightly cleaner after the impromptu bath time.
What’s left will be even more precious to my kids one day, and I can only hope the more embarrassing stuff was omitted in the erasure edit by the gracious good of some higher power.
Ultimately, I’m left with a lesson that brings the same calm and clarity that the journals bestowed in the first place. The whole soggy drama reminded me that the beauty and power in the art of journaling, is in the act of journaling, and that little pearl is mine to keep.