Thoughts on Journaling

From The Unfolding Moment, this is a lovely post about the ups and downs of keeping a journal, and now it feels to go back and re-read old journals: Reflection: Leave the Roots On.

Every once in a while, I become reacquainted with old notebooks.

My life is flush with them: sketchbooks and art journals, commonplace books of other people’s poetry, binders of old poems and nonfiction and school papers. scrawled journals chronicling nearly every developmental phase—the identity crisis we call “adolescence,” a bleak period of young adult depression, the secondary identity crisis known as graduate school.

I liked the images she shared from her various notebooks, which you can see in the original post. One of them is a jotted quote, from a poem, I guess, which reads


whatever you have to say, leave

the roots on, let them


And the dirt

Just to make clear

where they came from

-Charles Olsen

She concludes:

The only thing that doesn’t change is the urge to document what’s happening. There’s not really a specific motivation. It’s not just about keeping a record for myself, with an awareness of how helpful it is to touch base with all of the old myselves. It’s not just a means of expression for difficult or confusing or overwhelming feelings. It’s not just because I would like someday to share some of these journals with my children, or to revisit them in difficult parenting times as a way to remember what’s hard about being four or 14. It’s not just because I want to leave as many marks on this earth as possible in my time here.

It’s also just because I am compelled to do it.

I’m sure many of us can identify with that.

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2 Responses to “Thoughts on Journaling”

  1. Thanks so much for mentioning my blog! The Olsen poem is indeed one that I scribbled down at some point–no idea how I came across it, but it was amazing to find it again recently as a voice of wisdom from the past.

    I’m delighted to find your site! Glad there are other folks out there trailing journals behind them like footprints. 🙂

  2. Cool post. I’m sure everyone who follows this site can relate.

    I just started keeping my old filled up journals. I used to impetuously throw them away if I felt I’d written about some painful or embarrassing experience that I didn’t want to think about anymore.

    But now I’m keeping all of my old notebooks. And I actually like to re-read them from time to time. They help to keep my focused on growth and positive change.

    -Victoria D.

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