Journaling. Is it a lost art or a relic of times past that has rightfully disappeared in a world of easy electronic fixes for expression? Journals are deeply private things, they represent ourselves poured out in ink. Our moods can be seen in every penstroke, our thoughts in every malformed word. We don't edit ourselves in journals. Looking back, our writing seems disjointed and without the structure or social awareness that is expected from a polished status update. Journals are the only places, besides our minds, where our true selves live.
Handwritten journals are mandatory. Something about the visceral connection between the hand, the ink and the page encourages thoughts that fail to be expressed through the sterile white glow and metronomic cursor of a word processor.
Spelling mistakes happen but nobody cares. Hateful things are said, but this is a catharsis unparalleled. Hate is left in slashing, dagger-like “f's” that dry quickly rather than boiling over to harm the ones we care for. Love, too, finds its place in journals. Fluffy “o's” bounce freely off the line, only held in place by more grounded “l's” and “v's.”
Beauty is found, even from a purely aesthetic sense. A local café where you always wrote is remembered in neatly slanting letters that conform to the lined order of the page. The bus ride that thrashed your body all over the seat while the driver came perilously close to killing everyone finds itself in words which jerk across the page as your hand flies to brace yourself. Your entry assumes a drunken, wobbly aspect that reflects ceviche-induced motion sickness.
A brown splotch covering a normal workday update reminds you that you need to eventually kick that coffee habit while the irregular stain indicates an unlucky mosquito that had tormented you for half an hour.
An awkwardly stapled-in page is evidence of your desperation to write on anything during that horribly boring presentation when you stupidly forgot your journal at home.
What about the entries that aren't there? What happened between July 22 and August 1? Why this lacuna in your thoughts? It's not that anything unworthy of journaling happened. It's just life imposing its will, fooling you into thinking that nothing other than sleep is to be lost from skipping an entry. As the days pass without putting pen to paper, the very habit becomes difficult to pick up again (just as it becomes more difficult to strike up a conversation with an estranged friend with each passing day). But, the inertia eventually breaks; boredom compels you to reluctantly take the journal out of your pack while you wait for the next bus to god-knows-where.
And you write because you don't know how else to live.