Monday, December 9, 2013

The Reason I Write

"If you want to change the world, pick up your pen."
[Martin Luther]

I've always been a Taker of Notes and a Recorder of Thoughts and Ideas, but I didn't really have a system until I met Adam three years ago. Then I began to keep a lined black Moleskine journal with me, where ever I went. Random thoughts and lines of poetry, sermon and pattern notes, directions and phone numbers written in others' handwriting, notes on any adventures had while purchasing the notebook itself (I try to get them from local bookshops, when possible), odd maps that only I can read... I've almost filled my fifth notebook in 3 years.

There are markings in the corners of pages that I may need to refer back to - empty circles for designs-in-progress, filled in once the pattern is published; arrows for prayer requests; a set of three rays to mark additional notes on a topic that I plan to speak on or write about later - and some of the pages are thick with sticky notes, questions overlaid onto the answers underneath. It's an impressive-looking system that bristles with organization.

"If a man write little, he need have a great memory."
[Francis Bacon]

But that's an illusion. The reason for the marked corners, sticky notes, and even the notebooks themselves is this: to remember. The act of listening, then writing in my own oddly coded language, then rereading later, engraves sermons and lectures into my mind far better than merely hearing would. The same goes for notes on a book or study. Once I reach the end of a notebook, before I start the next one, I reread the old one. And every time there is common theme, usually one that I didn't notice as I plodded slowly through it.

Isn't that how our lives go? In the moment, we struggle to see progress - but if we look back at the moments collected into a grander span of time, then we can see that we have actually moved forward. But when memory fails, the written word remains, a testament to times past.

There is one other reason that I write: to preach to myself. Often, I will write wonderful, high words (a gratitude-filled Facebook status, an uplifting Tweet, a thoughtful blog post) and not feel a single word I'm writing. But I write so that I can read it aloud to myself - so that maybe in the speaking of it, it will become true. Maybe the upbeat twist at the end of a post will shift my own attitude as well as that of other readers. Maybe the penning of a Psalm of sorts will also etch it onto my stony heart. And maybe the daily ritual of listing gifts will cause me to see with grateful eyes everything that surrounds me.

How do you remember, and invoke change?


Kayla said...

I kept a journal infrequently through high school. Life wasn't always interesting or worth recording at that time (or so I thought). I managed to finish 3 or 4 journals in 4 years.

Then I went to college and "didn't have time to journal." I started to blog instead.

But I've found that when I blog something -- or write a Facebook status or a tweet -- I usually don't go back and reread it later. More recently as I've realized this, I've become more intentional about revisiting the 3-4 years of my "online journal." But I don't do it often.

Then last year there was a major upheaval in my family, and the only place I could go to process it all was my journal [my sweet husband allowed me to verbally process some of it, but there's no way he could have handled it all]. It was your constant mention of journaling that brought me back to something so simple. And I have begun to write again. It is SO wonderful.

I am nearly through with my 2nd journal since I began that one last year... and filling them up faster and faster. :) Life lived on pages with ink (and sometimes pencil when a pen cannot be located) has a unique legacy... and I love it.

Dolly said...

Reflecting on my teenage journals, I can see that it is worth recording your thoughts, memories, and circumstances. So many of those issues that were so intense, so important at the age of 17 are so insignificant now. I can laugh at my naive nature, and see how far I've come in my walk with Jesus. Journaling is something I would love to get back into. Children who have read their mothers and fathers journals have taken much from it...they realize they were young at one point as well! Keep on chronicling!