Why I Journal

Although my journaling style, the "how" of my expression, varies wildly, I am unequivocally certain why I journal. There is an urge deep in my soul, a river of emotion pushing at its banks, seeking the slightest opening through which it can rush, expand and overflow. My reasoning, logical, controlling self stands at the gap, finger in the hole, fearful of what might emerge if the river should break through.

In the past, I have played Shepherd to my life, vainly corralling chaos in order to bestow a sense of power and security. Yet, the Shepherd is getting very, very tired and the river on the other side of the wall is waiting. Little by little, I experiment with letting that emotion through, employing art journaling as the conduit. Paper, paint, ink, stamps, collage, writing: the words and images flow, sometimes trickling and sometimes raging. I journal in fits and starts as I’m not ready to let all my emotions wash over me. I often start things, tasting the cleansing release as the art begins to arise from that locked away place and almost as quickly I pull back. It is too much; I can not control it. It will sweep me away. I gasp, both at my temerity and the possibilities that letting go reveals. Each time, I let the waters make more headway and I become less resistant to its advance. In fact, I am beginning to welcome it.

Control is an illusion; pursuing an illusion can be deadly. My emotional and mental health has stumbled under the self-imposed mandate that I must always be at the helm of my ship. I struggle against currents and I battle the winds, hoping to create calm, however fleeting. But I am learning that sometimes my ship must drift, gently bumping up against life’s obstacles. The occasional floundering upon the shore is inevitable and not irreversible. I can recover; I can set sail again. My quest to control the universe is an ill-fated concept, one whose map leads to disappointment, fear, and a sickness of spirit. Art is a new map to follow.

So, I journal and the stream beneath my feet gains strength, growing bolder with every entry I complete. My resilience in the face of unexpected and ongoing challenges improves. I learn to confidently navigate my way through the crests and troughs of life, experiencing it without uncontrollable apprehension and reflecting upon it with wonder. My long-suppressed spirit emerges, first in the art and then, in my personality, and then in my actions. The journey to my authentic self begins in my journal, page by page, and port by port.

Originally written February 10, 2006
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