I love journals. We all have our prerequisites as to what makes a great journal: some like hard bound covers with great imagery, some like a particular style of paper (thin, thick, eco, etc.)
I like journals with a cover that has a little give (stiff enough to hold the book together but bendable). I also must, must have college ruled or quad styled pages (I cannot, cannot stand the wide ruled lines….they drive me batty).
I share all this because I’ve been on a journal collection overdrive during the last couple of months. Yet, I have not written a single word. I’ve been toiling these journals with me everywhere, looking at them, opening them up to their first fresh page, so full of possibilities, and I’ve closed them again and again. Just last week, I found myself walking down the stationary aisle, scanning yet for more possibilities, seeing the beauty of the pages, and this thought popped into my head: “all these pages, waiting to be filled…and what are you doing, Pia?”
Throughout my life, whenever I have found myself on the precipice of greatness, on the edge of something wonderful, I have always hesitated, retreated, been too scared of the success that could come my way. I’ve enjoyed still a good life, but I’ve never dared take a big, big step into greatness. And in a minutia scale, these journals represent this very same fear. I’ve been too afraid to fill the first page with meaningless dribble, I’ve been too afraid to start these wonderful journals and then find myself halfway through wondering what the heck am I doing, or finding it too difficult to continue.
In essence, these hard bound books, with very beautiful soft lined pages, have been a symbolic representation of my own detriment, that part of my personality that is so doubtful and apprehensive. I’m totally into symbolism and double meanings, and a play on words – that’s how I really get what something means (and that is sometimes what also gets me into trouble, but that is another post altogether). However, I never fully appreciated how my purchasing pattern of journals would get me to realize just how chicken I am about starting something great: my own life!
My pattern of living, up to today, has been to see the end goal and work backwards. Plan from how I visualize something to be and break it down into small bits. (Ironically, on the StrengthsBased test, my top skills include Achiever, which totally explains why tasks are a priority for me. However, it does not explain why them I’m so afraid of fully Achieving. Have to wonder.) The last year, however, has been filled with no end-goal in mind. I realize that planning to the extreme can be hazardous – things, events, people, circumstances, everything and anything can and usually does change. The more adhered someone is to their plan, the harder to take these changes into consideration. I have loosened my grip on what my plan is and how reality engages with that plan. Usually, both my plan and reality come out pretty good: my plan has allowed for a frame to the situation, and has actually encouraged some flexibility or openness for change, and that’s how reality has come in and had a wonderful time messing up my task list.
All of that has allowed me to feel comfortable with adaptability. Yet the plans that have been strategized still had a goal post they were shooting for. And that is exactly what has been missing for the past year. No goals posts, just wandering about in a very, very big landscape. Kind of like a giant desert where there are no boundary lines, and aimless walking just gets you deeper into the landscape, drained of strength and resources.
That’s where the journals come in. Feeling lost within that landscape, it seemed strange to even start to write, whether to establish a goal post, or set about tasks, or dream of ideas. What if I headed off in the completely wrong direction? I’m already thirsty and tired from my wanderings of the past year – could I deal with getting deeper and deeper into the desert, how long would I be able to survive there? Slowly, I began to realize that putting one step in front of the other was enough. It allowed me to move, in whatever direction I went; it didn’t strain my resources (my spirit); and it also allowed me to see the desert from a different perspective (even 1 foot can make a huge difference!).
So I timidly wrote that first task; I daringly wrote about a dream of ideas and possibilities. I didn’t schedule anything and I didn’t strategize about how to complete either the dream or the task. I gave myself permission to use 3 journals and 1 planner, to just start writing and seeing where that writing took me. I gave myself permission to use sloppy handwriting if that is what took place. I gave myself permission to be colorful or drab, depending on the day and the coloring pens on hand. Slowly, the timidness went away, the dream of ideas and possibilities started to flow, and I began to schedule and strategize.
The desert is still as big as ever. And maybe that is a good thing: it gives me permission to try any direction. Perhaps if some trees and water were lingering on an edge, I’d head straight there and forget about anything else. And that could be a big mistake. Sometimes the easy pickings are just that, too easy and too quick and too fragile to last for too long. It’s time to start enjoying the desert (one of the daily tasks is to deal with the day, and everything it has provided me with, with joy – not distress or disgust) and allowing the desert to show me who I am and what I can become.
And yes, I’m already thinking of what other journals I can pick up – let the jump off the precipice begin!