“There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write.” William Makepeace Thackeray, (b 1811, d 1863, author of Vanity Fair)
Just last week in a chat with Maggie, my new daughter-in-law, she and I discussed the pleasure and insight to be discovered in the practice of a daily journal. New to the habit, Maggie shared with me the startling discoveries rooted in her deepest self, and yet unrecognized until she began to put them to words.
The Process of Journaling
Such is the message of William Makepeace Thackeray, more than one hundred fifty years ago. I have journaled for forty years, although for much of that time my journaling found its home in a plethora of personal and unpublished essays. For the last six years I have kept somewhat daily journals except for more recently (18 months) which I have been faithful to the daily journal exercise.
Ideas come to my head as a result of inspirational reading, meditation, or the current state of my being. In this practice I am often surprised by what I write, thoughts unexplored until I began to put them in writing. Deep thoughts. Secret thoughts. Private thoughts, sometime unseemly, sometimes insightful in a worldly sense, and other times thoughts into the private parts of myself often unknown to myself until the process of writing them on my IPad.
For the household with one or two inhabitants the time for journaling can be anytime, except I have found that to insert journaling into a daily ritual, gives me opportunity for consistency. For others with a busy household in quarantine is not so easy—early morning, late evenings or “nap time” may provide opportunity.
So… some of what I have I discovered in my personal journaling…
- Thoughts on the “freedom” available to us in quarantine. My life is mine to determine. Much stress and anxiety over performance issues that have haunted me my entire life have been released. Freedom in quarantine, at first thought, seems to be counter-intuitive, but it is not. At the end of the day, it is I that hold ultimate choice.
- Solitude is not necessarily a process of tuning out the needs of others. In fact, it is a chance to ponder deeply the presence of friends and colleagues and the world in crisis. I am not alone. I am a human as deeply involved in the pandemic as the average American and world citizen. Therefore my solitude permits me to ponder deeply the state of the world and the related state of my most internal self. Solitude, for me, is a silent prayer for insight, learning and for healing.
- Thomas Merton writes, “A man knows he has found his vocation when he stops thinking about how to live and begins to live…” The art of living is composed of deep thought and sometimes risky behavior, that ones feels in one’s soul must be acted upon… no matter the response of friends or critics. It implies living according to one’s vocation (or calling). All for the benefit of the world as for the as the integrity of the self.
So here we are yet once again—trying to make some sense of the of the times of “sheltering at home.”
My thoughts in this post consist of meanderings of mind, exposing random yet impactful insights into the nature of my innermost self.
Check out journaling for yourself.
A Surprising Exercise for Self Discovery
Photo courtesy of PredragImages at istockphoto