I haven’t been submitting blog posts as frequently as usual lately. For a while, I was using this blog as a hybrid astronomy observation log and a personal journal. But since the beginning of the year, I started keeping a personal, hand-written journal; instead of posting the more personal stuff online I decided to keep it for myself. One reason is because well, who wants to read that? Nobody cares… we all have our own problems, right? And two, because I’ve found that keeping a hand-written journal is extremely cathartic. I’ve always thought of journals as sort-of lame and never really had the desire to devote that much time to writing down stuff I already know. Turns out, that’s the point!
Just the simple act of taking the time to slow down, think about what you’re going to write, and physically writing down your thoughts and memories is very calming. The ‘taking the time’ part delivers some of the same benefits as the mindfulness/conscious breathing exercises I’ve been practicing lately. The ‘writing down thoughts’ part helps with worrying about things you have to do or accomplish and clearly defines those objectives and relieves a lot of that stress. I believe I’ve been sleeping a lot better since I’ve started. The ‘writing down memories’ part personally helps my memory, and will eventually be fun and interesting to go back to one day and read and relive those moments of my life.
Maybe the best (non-intentional) reason to keep an actual journal is physical record keeping. What I mean by that is, one day standards will change; jpegs won’t be used anymore, WordPress will be a thing of the past, text files will be lost and deleted and all that work and effort I spent creating this website (which I do extremely enjoy) will be for naught. Think of all those thousands of digital pictures people take each and every day. I think about my own pictures stored away in folders on a hard drive that will die one day and know I’ll wish I could get all those memories back. (Printing them all off would be costly and a pain, but maybe it would be worth it.) I LOVE going through old shoeboxes of photos – who doesn’t?! That’s what I’m imagining these journals will provide in the future; a link to the past. And it takes much longer for the ‘handwritten’ format to change. They’ll definitely last longer than a .docx file. We still have writings from Egyptians and ancient Mesopotamians from many thousands of years ago!
I cannot recommend keeping a journal enough to everyone out there. It has been so much more rewarding than I ever thought such a simple act could possibly be. Maybe I’ll pick up a disposable camera on the way home too…