• TheDMonline.com Staff Member?
  • Log In
Share |

Journaling: a lost art

 

In today’s era of computers, laptops, netbooks and tablets, few can deny that much of our world is now electronic. 

Communication, so long confined to the sluggish limitations of paper, ink and the postal service, can occur now nearly instantaneously through e-mail, the Internet, cell phones and text messages.

Fading too is the phenomenon of handwritten note-taking in university classrooms, as students swap bulky notebooks and binders for the ease of a single, multi-faceted (and occasionally distracting) laptop. Once I realized that I can type much faster than I can write, I made the switch to an Asus EeePC netbook for note taking, and began avoiding paper altogether. 

After two semesters of taking notes nearly exclusively on my computer, I did something that I found surprising: I began to keep a journal.

No, I’m not referring to an online blogging hub like LiveJournal or Blogspot, where your every thought can be read and commented on by friends and family. I am talking about the old-fashioned, paper-filled journal that you used to hide as a kid. 

For years I had told myself that I would start one, but the task of not only beginning — but maintaining — a daily journal daunted me. 

I realized at the end of this year that my life is moving faster than it ever has before, and it is not likely to slow down anytime soon. People are walking in and out, and memories are made and forgotten. Oftentimes nothing marks their passage, and no record is left to help me remember the details that I might want to keep in mind. I decided that it was now or never, and that I would regret it if I never tried. 

I shopped around and bought a classic leather-bound journal the week before spring finals. I chose one small enough to carry in my purse when I travel, but big enough that I can write in it with ease. Although I have only been keeping a journal for a little over two months, I have already drawn a few conclusions about my experience.

First off, keeping a journal is hard; not only because it takes me a long time to write an entry by hand, but because I am constantly remembering things that I want to write down. Before I know it, an entry that I had initially expected to take up a single page has stretched to nearly ten. Even then, I feel as though I could write even more.

But on other days, the last thing I want to do is write. I have gone an entire week without even opening my journal, and when I stare at the blank page at last I realize just how much has happened over the course of seven days. 

Keeping a journal has given me a renewed appreciation for how rich in detail life really is, and how much of it I take for granted.

I would argue that keeping a private, handwritten journal is a completely different experience than maintaining a blog on the Internet. 

There is something about being able to write down your personal thoughts somewhere that you will only see that is very therapeutic. In many ways, it is as if you are confiding in yourself, writing to the person you will come to be with the passing of days, years and decades. If something is bothering me, journaling not only helps relieve the stress, but it helps put things into perspective. 

Most of the time, the issue that seemed so crucial at that instant became just another entry, one thought or feeling of thousands recorded within the pages of the journal.

As cliché as it might sound, the lesson here is a simple one: life is fleeting. If you are not careful, you will miss the details of your own that make it so rich.

I want to be able to look back at that first entry 10 years from now, and reflect on how far my life has taken me. 

Without creating this personal record for myself, the details will be long forgotten.

--

Lexi Thoman is junior international studies and Spanish double-major from St. Louis, Mo. E-mail her at amthoman@olemiss.edu.