Categories
Personal Musings

Keeping a daily journal

How keeping a daily journal has changed my perspective on life.

On October 1, I started keeping a daily journal. You can read it at this link. This simple act each day has been an eye opening practice. Before I started this habit, the negative parts within my day would often overshadow the positive. It’s hardwired in our biology to do this.

Now, when I look back on my day, I find myself writing things such as this (from an October 11 entry):

Walking through the woods
I came upon a box turtle.
It did not retreat into its shell;
it lay there,
a mess of itself,
eating a wild mushroom
for breakfast.

Or this image (from October 13) of the morning sky shortly after the sun had risen. I was on a run at the time, jogging past a lake:

Pink ribbons lace the blue sky
as the night yawns, awakening
from a deep slumber.

Had I not captured these experiences in written form, it’s likely I would’ve already forgotten these fleeting moments — or, at the least, the experience wouldn’t have been remembered for the beauty it held in the moment on that particular day.

Reading through my journal, I’m able to return to and relive these tiny slivers of life. I find this daily habit has made me more in tune with my surroundings. I pay attention to things far greater than I did before.

Of course, not everyday is a box turtle eating a mushroom on the forest floor. My son had a rather scary asthma attack on October 3, which I wrote about. Two days before that, my 18 month old niece was hospitalized and put on oxygen (she’s better now).

Events of that magnitude made me question whether keeping a daily journal on my blog made a lick of sense. The answer is yes. Yes, it does. Without writing, and I should add: without consistent writing on a daily basis, I’m a shell of myself with swirling thoughts trapped inside my head with nowhere to go.

A daily journal allows me to get those thoughts out of my head. I’m able to parse out the good from the bad and not focus too intently on the negative. This generates a bit of an equilibrium in each day from beginning to end.

I’m taking to heart what novelist Ray Bradbury once said:

Just write every day of your life. Then see what happens.

And that’s just what I plan on doing. If you’d like to catch up on some of my past entries from the month of October, just go here.

By Jeffrey Pillow

Jeffrey Pillow is an American short story writer, memoirist, and poet. He is the author of The Lady Next Door. His writing has been published in Urge Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown, 16 Blocks, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, TheBody.com, New York Times, Washington Post, and Richmond Times-Dispatch.

He grew up in the small town of Phenix, Virginia, population: 200, and now lives in Charlottesville with his wife, two kids, and a dog named Mozzarella Cheese. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he was a Rainey Scholar. This is his blog.