“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”
– Arundhati Roy, The Cost of Living
Image: “Drops on Lotus” by Takashi M. via Flickr
For years, my father listed his daily activities in a spiral-bound notebook. He noted random and ordinary moments that occurred during the day. He always wrote the date, the day of the week and the year. Below these notations, he made timeline of his day: ate pizza with the family, watched a movie at the theater or sometimes, the conversations he had with my mom or one of us. He never made a point of keep his journal private. He acknowledged that he wanted to track his moments to understand how he spent his time. As a teenager, I dismissed this practice, without giving much thought at how this formed a compass for his life.
I always laugh now when I am writing my own activities in my journal. As a little girl, I never really kept a diary. I couldn’t make the commitment to jot down my thoughts everyday. It seemed silly to mention my mall trips or how I fared on my last history test. In the last ten years, the practice of tracking my ordinary moments creates a comfort. I’ve kept a line a day journal for the last seven years and not only can I compare days of the same year, but also different years. Some days the entries are simple, like noting if I read a particularly good book or if certain situations evoked sadness or happiness. There are no restrictions or limitations on what I can or cannot write about.
In a recent article on Motherlode, the article pointed that there is evidence that tracking these mundane moments might offer an unexpected sense of joy. I enjoy focusing on the ordinary because often times, it is remembering my daughter’s belly laugh or watching my mom cook a particular dish or catching a late-night movie with my husband that extrapolates what the essence of my life has become. It becomes a collection of where I was in a particular year or a collection of what I am becoming.
An added bonus has emerged from my daily journaling. It allows me to remember not only my days, but also keeps me connected to some of the more happier memories of my father.
Do you journal? What benefits have you seen with the practice?
Image: 143/365Diary by Magic Madzik via Flickr
“I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave’s a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that’s what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it.”
― Joan Didion
Image: Stanley Park, Vancouver by Leo Mao via Flickr.