I've been on this digital journey for two months now. Full disclosure. I miss my journal. I take great pleasure in a beautifully bound book. In fact, one store that I was especially excited to visit in Paris was the Moleskine store. Yes, Paris, the fashion capital of the world and I obsessed over journals. I didn't by one there, despite Jason's urging to do so, and it kind of bugs me to this day.
When John Quincy Adams was 10 years old his parents gave him a journal and suggested he write every day. Speaking of which, poor John Q. His parents Abigail and John, win the award for being the most overbearing parents of all time. I love them both, but they would chide him for not being serious enough about his studies of Latin when he was 12! They told him to get his head out of the clouds and stop enjoying Shakespeare like a commoner and get some serious literature under his belt like the classic Greek poets. Poor kid. Although to be fair to his parents it worked. He did become president and do some pretty cool stuff, so cheers to overbearing parents everywhere! Anyway, he went on to keep that journal until his death providing us with a detailed account of his thoughts, goals, feelings, and impressions of his time period. I wish I could say that I have faithfully followed John Quincy Adams in this journal keeping, but that would be a solid lie. My journal writing has been spotty and dipped in and out of my life's timeline. I rarely referenced what was going on in the world, but I did write about the US declaring war on Iraq. It was brief and I only wrote to document to my future self that I was paying attention. One of my all time favorite most cringe worthy entries was written during my senior year of high school.
It was Friday, April 25, 1997. I was making big decisions about my course of study and college plans. I was anxious and had a lot on my mind. I needed to know what the rest of my life was going to look like before my 18th birthday. I. Needed. Answers. Throughout the year, our school and church would bring in special speakers and I was clearly moved by the service on this particular day. I came home and wrote the following in my Marvin the Martian journal. "Lately I have been feeling really anxious about what I will be doing, where I should go, who should I marry (please don't let it be Jason [Gies]), but today Mike Manor was talking about depending on God and if I do that He will lead me so today I asked God to make me dependent on him." Yes, that was a big decision, but did you catch that? Please don't let it be Jason Gies? Um, spoiler alert - I married Jason Gies. I've learned so much over the years, but one of the biggest lessons I've learned is that God's plan is not mine, but it is better.
As I've experienced pain, I've written. As I've experienced joy, I've written. I wish I had written more when I was pregnant with Logan so I could tell him the stories as I wrote them down back then. I've switched journals, rarely ever filling one up. When I go months without and entry, I feel the need to catch myself up on my life which takes time, so I avoid writing. When I finally sit down to write, I realize that I'm writing for myself. If anybody is reading this in the future, they can make their own assumptions about where I was during these gap times in my life. (I hope they assume I wrote an award winning book under a pen name but was too humble to journal about it.)
Since embracing the digital, I looked into finding a digital journal that I could use to record the comings and goings of my life and there are several. For the past few months I've been using the journal app called Journey. A digital journal doesn't have the nostalgic appeal of the old school blank book but it has some key advantages that I find very attractive. 1. Entries can be stored in the cloud or downloaded. I could print and bind them into a book if I felt so moved or I could leave everything in the cloud. 2. Entries are quick and easy to write from anywhere as long as I have my phone with me. I can also add and edit from a computer if I want to use a real keyboard. 3. I can add photos, videos, or a file. I love this because sometimes all I need is a photo. Facebook and Instagram have become a type of digital scrapbook for me, but I don't want to post everything. Somethings I just want to remember for me. This is a great way to do that. 4. You can add a location tag to your entries so you can see when you were when you wrote. This is fun and will be even better as I write while traveling. So far my only out of town trip since downloading the app has been to Kalamazoo, but I look forward to seeing a globe full of posts and notes. 5. The app also keeps track of the weather and your movement when you are posting. I took a photo of us while we were driving to church and it shows that we are moving at the time I saved the entry. (For the record, no, I was not driving.)
Whatever your method, journaling is a great way to reflect on the past and share what is in your heart. Several years ago I had the opportunity to see David McCullough at an author event. He was extolling the virtues of keeping a journal or diary because these are items that have been crucial to him as an author. His book John Adams won the Pulitzer Prize and is viewed as a masterpiece of non-fiction writing. A great deal of the information he gathered were from personal letters and diaries kept by the family. He spoke with concern about the fact that since the Nixon era politicians haven't kept records of their activities in the same way that the Adams' did for reasons that become obvious when you study the Nixon era. He said the way to be remembered is to get a journal, write in it every day, and leave it to some future generation. Your personal and eyewitness insight to the era will be key to historians. I'm not sure if this is true, but I do know that journaling is for me.
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."