A few nights ago, I hopped a red-eye home from LAX with a carryon of sweaters and books, toothpaste. I’d gone camping with this crew, although camping is perhaps a reach to write. One morning, I woke to find glitter in my boot.
Whenever I teach journaling classes, or writing classes of any sort, I am forever asked how I find the time. How do you carve out a few minutes to write every single day? Tell me about your schedule, about the mechanics of it all.
But I don’t think that’s the real question we wrestle with, is it? The real question is a far simpler one:
Is it essential?
We find time for the essential, after all. We find time to brush our teeth, to shower, to feed the dogs, to feed ourselves. We find time to go to work, to go to sleep, to go to the grocery for milk.
Some of us find the time for other things we deem essential: yoga, hair appointments, Sunday morning church.
And so, the question isn’t how we find the time.
It is why.
My only answer to this is that to journal, for me, is to breathe. It is to write it all down unmarred by expectation, unfiltered for consumption. It is the most indulgent practice, and also the least, given that each contradiction I meet on the page offers me the opportunity to accept the many contradictions of another.
There is no how.
Sit down at your local coffee shop and type out a blog post. Make notes on the back of your kid’s artwork, grocery lists, appointment reminders, marketing meeting agendas. Draw pictures on a napkin at the sports bar. Write long-winded cursive letters to your future self in a leather-bound journal on a rainy day. Leave yourself voice recordings while sautéing the onions. Call a friend for a walk around the neighborhood and exchange random thoughts about your lives, your perspectives – the truth as you see it today.
Listen, I know you’re busy.
I know you have small children, or aging parents, or needy dogs and grown-up responsibilities and a full-time job and you don’t understand, I’m already late to the dentist.
Write that down, too, if you’d like.
Say what it feels like to be drowning. Feel the shape of those words as they land on the page, or on another ear. Understand that this is your life – your gift.
Allow yourself five minutes to introduce yourself to it.
It will look ugly.
The truth often does. Our mirrors are all a little skewed, a lot cracked. You’ll be tempted to bust out the gorilla glue for repairs, to twist your words into lies that make you sound like less of a jerk at the end of the day. Write those down, too.
Understand that we’re all jerks at the end of the day.
Choose to be one of the honest ones.
So yes, journaling is essential. It is essential to me, and I think likely to you, and the how matters not.
But the why does.
Here’s to the stories we live, and the stories we tell.
May they be one and the same.
(And may we wake to find glitter in our boots.)