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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

On Journal Writing-

Call it a personal log, a diary, a journal. It is essentially documenting your life. I have kept a journal since January of 1973. There are spans of many months, perhaps even years, in which I did not make any entries, but it was still my journal.

I know something about journal writing.

That being said, I have also learned a bit about journal writing over those many years. How can a person do something like that for so long and not learn something?

The largest lesson learned has been regarding an error in personal philosophy. I determined many years ago to live a transparent life. I don't like keeping secrets, and never had any intention of living my life for other people. As the great philosopher Popeye said, "I yam what I yam."

So, I determined to record all of me for those coming after me to read.

I failed to take into account that even those who love me might not be able to handle all of me.

You see, there are several types of journals a person might keep. Cathartic journals, where complaints and injuries might be exposed and (theoretically) healing might begin. Erotic journals, where the sensual and sexual aspects of the self might be examined and explored. Journals of personal history. Philosophical journals, in which the writer develops a way of thinking and living.

Following my theory of transparent living I put it all into my journal. Thoughts, dreams, fantasies, personal history, excerpts from things I read that I found valuable and note worthy.

I invited my wife, Linda, to read my journal and get to know me. I learned that some aspects of myself should be edited even for someone as close to me as my wife. Some portions of what has been written have troubled her, and adversely affected our relationship. Perhaps not a fatal wound, but one that has left scars.

It seems that I have never been good at understanding other people, even those whom I love and who love me.

Now my journal writing has spilled over into the blogosphere. Fortunately I have learned a few lessons. Catharsis has a place, but not here. Eroticism also does not have a home in this blog. Oh, there might be a venue for such things, but not here. Some thoughts might be recorded here, but not all thoughts.

My hand written journals remain in a box, all thirteen volumes. My digital fourteenth volume is carefully stored away. Linda has challenged me to edit the thing so that my grandchildren can safely read it. Perhaps she is right. It might not be a kindness to inflict an unedited grandpa on them.

Maybe I should just get drunk and burn it all. My journal served me in many ways, but it just may better serve as fuel for a nice fire at this point in my life. It could be a living funeral pyre, a celebration of fire and smoke and ash. As the smoke would rise and thin my life would truly become transparent.

In the end it is just ticket stubs and playbills. Just programs saved from games long ended.

So, if you are just starting your log, journal or diary, keep in mind your purpose. Divide your efforts, to ease the editing process when the day of reckoning eventually comes upon you. If you have your cathartic, erotic and other dubious writings separate from your other work, editing will be much easier and the fire much smaller.

Your children and grandchildren don't necessarily need all of you. Just give them the best parts.

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