Write everything down. Keep a journal.

In Nora Ephron's "I Feel Bad About My Neck," there is an essay titled "What I Wish I'd Known" and it consists of a list of all sorts of true (in my opinion) things such as "Buy, don't rent" and "You can't be friends with people who call after 11 p.m."

Also found in this list is "Write everything down. Keep a journal."

I know that this blog is a journal of sorts but it's not really a journal describing day to day life. I have kept many journals with detail of what I did each day, starting back in 1987 but I decided about the time I started seriously blogging in 2007 that all of that should meet the shredder. Sometimes I regret that afternoon but I realize that it was an overall mentally healthy move. This was at the time of my mother's cancer diagnosis and I realized that I needed to let go of a huge chunk of the past that was recorded in those journals or it was going to suffocate me and if it didn't actually suffocate me, it would still poison the present and I needed as much energy to deal with the present as I could muster.

Fast-forward to 2016, a few months after my mother died, when I was walking through the gift shop in Cracker Barrel and I noticed a Five Year Journal. I had been drifting from blogging but I still had the desire to write and I had a new realization of the years that had passed in a blur, unrecorded, with me trying to rely on dim memories, things I saved and pictures to piece it all together and I also had the full understanding that the memories I did have were going to get dimmer and dimmer with time.


I didn't buy the journal right then because it looked like something aimed at a twelve-year-old kid. I decided to go home and check Amazon. There had to be something similar that was a bit more "mature" looking.

I was proven wrong. Every five year journal on Amazon that had a "mature" cover was also smaller than the one at Cracker Barrel and I didn't want to try to write legible tiny letters every day. I can barely write legible full size letters. So, I went right back to Cracker Barrel and became to owner of a cowboy-themed Five Year Journal.

And, since July 2016, I have written a little bit just about every day except for in the fall of 2016 when I suddenly stopped. I had gone out of town on vacation and forgot the journal so I convinced myself that the idea was dumb and the journal sat abandoned for several weeks before I finally tossed it into my wastebasket. Finally, after seeing it in there all day and thinking about how dumb it was to give up, I pulled it back out of the wastebasket and I have written daily ever since.  I also set up a daily Todoist reminder set as a backup so I don't forget to write each evening.

I can describe my typical day in very few words. This is proof that my life is not particularly exciting but that is ok. I have learned to appreciate the not exciting days.

Here's an example entry from February 25, 2017:
"Honor band concert. Much colder. Went to Walmart."

Oddly enough, this is all the detail I need to recollect that exact day. Instead of the details of February 25, 2017 being lost to the blur of history, they are there for me to recall whenever I want via eight sloppily written words.

The journal doesn't give you a ton of space to begin with and some days I fill in all the lines and some days I don't. Here is an image of two future blank days is below so you can see how much space I have to document each day.


Last night, when I got to the part of Nora Ephron's book where she wrote "Write everything down. Keep a journal," I started thinking about the importance (to me) of keeping the five year journal. I'm glad that I happened to see it in the first place and that something in me made me go back and buy it and then pull it out of the trash when I almost gave up on it.

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