published Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Roberts: Journal can help you find yourself


by Dalton Roberts

I once heard that we should cherish all of our happy moments because they make a fine cushion for old age. I would add the thought that happy moments make a good cushion for any age. Our younger years are the time we are most prone to lose a record of them because we foolishly think we are going to live forever.

Despite over 40 years of keeping a personal journal, I got careless about it in the past two years and was always "catching it up" when I got far behind. Then one day I sat with a volume of it and was reminded anew of how powerful some of the contents can be. I vowed to give it more attention and have been doing that since.

I once spoke on journal-keeping at a church, and the title of my talk was "How To Save Your Soul for $12.37." Something like $12.37 is what I spent to set up my first journal. That amount bought me a notebook, dividers for the months of the year and 31 dividers for the days of a month.

The title of my talk may sound strange if you think "soul" in some deeply metaphysical way. But the New Testament Greek word for "soul" means "the real self." So anything that helps you find your real self must be very important, and nothing has helped me find the pieces of my real self more than keeping my journal.

I write two entirely different kinds of things in my journal. One is my daily activities, and the other is my thoughts on life, love and similar deeply personal subjects.

Writing on those deeply personal things definitely helps us find our true self, but so do the activities. Where we spend our time and the people we spend it with tells us a lot about our real self.

So many priceless things fall through he cracks of our lives if we don't keep a journal. The most priceless things are the thoughts we have about the things we experience. Sometimes I am amazed at how much some experiences took out of me or how poorly I dealt with the issues I faced. Sometimes I am amazed at how well I dealt with things at that stage of my life. In both cases, I get insights into my real self, which is the main reason I keep a journal in the first place.

Part of the reason for journaling is to enjoy our journey -- the people we journey with and the places we go. Unless we really taste, smell, see, touch and hear those things, we are missing so much.

On Mother's birthday, I saw some pictures of her and dad that were made before any of their four children were born. The funky hats they wore that were popular at that time really amused me. But I also saw how young, beautiful and vibrant they were at that time. I even noticed how much some of their grandchildren favored them before they ever had a single child.

You will miss these wonderful experiences if you don't keep a journal. And it is really such a tragic loss of the pieces of your life.

Anything we can do to find our true self is worth our time.

Email Dalton Roberts at DownhomeP@aol.com.

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