A step out into the cool forest air this morning and the feel of winter gripping the surrounding countryside, as I wait for the sun to come up over the tree tops and warm this place up some. The holidays are upon me. A visitor, a daughter, coming in tonight to the local airport from Hawaii will add a great sense of festivity to this ordinary life. Some of my regular patterns for living will be put on hold while this family get-together falls into place. I may not write much, but turn my attention outwardly to those close by. The concentration that a quiet and undecorated house allows me will transform into an interlude of more lively interactions.
This time of year I normally do some maintenance on my computer and on my record-keeping. I’ve lost too much personal data in the past, and overstuffed my paper files with paper that is no longer relevant to me. It gives me a sense of freshness, before the new year begins, to catch up on all those small but important details. A year’s worth of photos are being backed up to a local hard drive, while my trash bin under my desk is stuffed with old tax forms, expired insurance policies, and odd pieces of official looking documents that no longer seem relevant to my existence.
When I go through this annual exercise it causes me to think about other things I need to change or do maintenance on, including this journal, which I have been keeping with fairly regular effort for several years. I pause to wonder what it is I have been writing and what is the value of it all. I enjoy going back and reading through the work, but as with everything else I think to myself that perhaps I should be doing something different with my spare time, or perhaps make changes to how I am doing what I am accustomed to doing. I made a few notes to myself about some writing I have been wanting to do that I have simply not gotten to, a sort of early New Years resolution that is still in incubation. We’ll see how that goes.
Most of my resolutions never come to fruition. They turn out often to be just grandiose ideas that I later find impossible to implement. Keeping a journal over the years has helped me to smooth out some of that inner frustration. It seems that by talking it over with myself on a keyboard I find the folly in thinking I can change anything. Or, I see that change does not need to come on the first day of the new calendar year, but can gradually over a period of time, rather than so abruptly.
It was about six years ago, over the holidays, that I first began keeping a journal. When it all started, it was private, rather than posting to a blog or website. It was a capturing of memories–the construction of a set of memoirs, plus some personal examination of my own life. After a year or two of that the writing seemed to morph gradually into a lot of self-absorption–stuff I really didn’t care to read. So I worked at changing the scope of what I was writing to something with a more public voice–a blog. Much of this introspective life has come out in the form of a blog. I can’t seem to let go of that. I felt like I needed to change that by writing more about what is outside of me and around me, rather than what is inside of me. Some of the old and personal mixed in with some of the new outward perspective.
People who write anything at all about their own life surely must go through this process of measuring what must be kept hidden and what is okay to publish. A workable solution, which I have been considering, is to keep two separate journals, one looking out and one looking in, like the two-headed Greek goddess Janus, who had two faces; one that looked forward and one that looked backward. Just a few thoughts as the new year approaches and I reconsider this love affair with words and ideas.