When I first began keeping a journal at 22 years old, I was attempting to chronicle my first trip to Europe with the Antioch Chorus. Part of my purpose was to write as a journalist (note the word “journal” embedded within), reporting the news of what happened. Part was to express some inner states of being, a map of my emotional and spiritual ups and downs. Part was to say out loud an emerging vision and value system, to bridge the enormous gap between the world as it was and the world as I hoped it might be. All three were present in that first Mead spiral-bound green-covered account of what proved to be a most remarkable and memorable three months. All three continued to thread themselves throughout the 49 succeeding years of keeping handwritten journals, a practice I still keep even as it overlaps with these last eleven years of this Blog.
I discovered another power of this discipline, the way I could write myself into the day simply by starting with noting where I was and using language to settle myself deeper into the moment. Simply try to describe what is separate from how I feel about it, a kind of haiku consciousness which removes me from the picture. But not wholly. The very act of attending to the world, the particular things I notice, the words I use to describe it, writes me indelibly into the scene.
I miss this kind of writing. Beginning close in, starting with what’s near before venturing out to the far-flung visions. As any ongoing reader might note, there’s a lot of muscular imposition about the way the world should be, a lot of noting the moments when it occasionally is that way (particular in music classes with kids or adults), a lot of attempts to more clearly articulate my Personal Manifesto. But today, without any music classes or new ideas on how to save the world, I wondered what it would be like to return to that earlier version of writing. So imagine that I’ve written none of the above and simply began like this:
The sun peeking out from the surrounding mountains, casting shadows and promising yet more warmth in the cool quiet of a Palm Springs morning. Palm trees, barking dogs, wet clothes on beach chairs like still life paintings. My wife, daughter and grandson immersed in the hot tub, three generations sharing the promise of a summer’s day in December. Yesterday’s invigorating hike and last night’s hilarious game-playing still echoing in this old body and spirit, made perpetually young by the company I keep and the things we do together. Malik out of the hot tub into the pool, happy with his new-found skill of sitting on a ball in the water. How little is needed for happiness.
And so the day beckons us to taste its delights. I’m ready.