For years now, I’ve kept a journal. Well, not so much a journal in the sense of being a ‘diary’ – more a sort of daily writing exercise. First thing in the morning, over a cup of coffee, I write down whatever comes into my head. Three pages, longhand, with a pencil.
There’s a diary aspect to it of course, because whatever is going on in my life filters through the nonsense onto the pages – but recording history is not the point of it. The point is to just dump all the stuff that’s swirling around in your head onto the page so you can carry on with your day unencumbered by the mental clutter.
That’s the theory anyway – and it’s become a ritual. Haven’t missed a single day in almost two years.
However, recording history – or at least my morning brain’s jumbled interpretation of it – is what happens. And I’ve just come to the end of this chapter. This morning, I wrote the last three pages of a journal that started on January 13th, 2013.
It begins with me finishing a book about radio and getting on a plane and ends with me coming down off a mountaintop with blisters. And so much in between.
I used to throw these journals away when I finished them. The point was not to ever look back over them, but rather simply to do the exercise. It was the activity, rather than the document, that was the purpose of the ritual. But I’ve started keeping them, and I can imagine myself looking back over it in years to come. There’s some good stuff in there. There’s some good stuff in all of them.
There’s that time I became a professor. That time I went to the zoo. That time I climbed a volcano with my father. That time I saw elephant seals. The wine tastings. The road trips. The music. The sunshine. The snow. The food. The friends. It’s all in there.
And now it’s time to start another book. I don’t know what’s going to be in this one. I suppose I never really do. But I’m looking forward to finding out.