Phyllis Theroux is an acclaimed essayist, columnist, teacher, and the author of the memoir, The Journal Keeper.
Imagine there is a room in your house which is just for you. When you walk into it, you feel as if you are standing near a wood stove, surrounded by all of the people you love. The windows look out upon familiar scenes from your life. But your eyes work better here. The view is richer, more detailed. Now imagine that you can pull this room out of your pocket whenever you open your journal. Would you become a journal keeper?
To keep a good journal you need two things--time and the desire to lead a richer, more conscious life. Does this sound too difficult? Maybe yes. If you are the parent of young children, or holding down two jobs, you get up at six a.m. and don’t stop until midnight. Time is a luxury you don’t have, until you wake up one morning and realize you have misplaced your life.
I was 35 when this happened to me. Everything I cherished was in jeopardy, including a marriage I had run out of ways to fix. Frighteningly, I had two friends in similar circumstances who had died (one of cancer, another of a heart attack) because, in my view, they couldn’t figure another way out. I didn’t want this to happen to me.
I began to keep a journal. Every morning when I opened up to a new page, I felt as if I had been given a fresh start. When I pressed my pen down upon the paper, I was creating a line to follow. The voice I needed to hear the most was waiting for me to hitch up my chair and listen. Keeping a journal saved my life. Re-reading it made me realize that a hand greater than my own was guiding it across the page.
When you are young and full of tumult, no one tells you that each year brings a little more light and peace into your life. My days, like the pages in my journal are numbered, but keeping a journal reminds me to savor them. And, should you cross my path with a new idea, an irresistible joke, or a story too good for forget, I will un-cap my pen, open my journal and savor you.
-- Phyllis Theroux
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