A few years ago, I set out with a goal to journal every single day. 365 days straight.
And, at the time, I think I had this magical outlook that I’d sit down in the front porch swing, on a rainy morning, and every word I’d pen would be something profound or inspired. I’d push myself to be open-minded and passionate and explore every shadowed nook and cranny worthy of contemplation, even the ones within myself. My prose would be lush and velvet over sweetened coffee; my poetry would be stark and raw like warm metal. I just knew I’d craft a narrative I could look back on and think: “This is where it all started…”
One of these days I’ll learn reality rarely meets up to our own preconceived expectations.
Sometimes, though…reality surprises us and completely surpasses our expectations in a way we never would’ve expected.
“Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” – John 1:16
When was the last time something gave you the chills? Was it a low, guitar chord fading out into an empty room? Watching a horse make his way through milky fog in the dawn, steam rippling out and over his spine like smoke? Hearing your kids giggling together in their bedroom, when they should be sleeping? A surprise kiss in the kitchen that turned slow and lit with fire, hands drifting and whispered ‘I missed yous’?
If someone were to ask me: What is passion to you? I would say all of those things. All of those things which stop our hearts for a single second before kicking it into overdrive, our skin buzzing with promise and coming alive. All of those things which guide us when we’re lost. All of those things which excite us and shake us and change us.
I watch with wild, wide eyes the people who live wholly. The ones who climb mountains, the ones who raise babies, the ones who quit their jobs and volunteer at a hospital after a devastating hurricane, the ones who pursue their career with bold conviction, the ones who carry the word of God within them and share it with strangers, the ones writing music in their head during Human Anatomy class, the ones who can tell you exactly how many teeth an Ankylosaurus had…
I truly believe, as humans, there are gaps in our souls aching to be filled. And not to be filled with something half-hearted but with something all-consuming. A rush. A light. A joy. I also think, as humans, some of us crave stories in those gaps the way we crave breathing. We seek out the tellers and weavers of tales; we’re attracted to the melding of history and myths. We have long come to terms with the child inside us still bursting at the seams to say: “Read me one more book, please. Then I’ll go to bed. I promise.” We are collectors of characters and guardians of worlds which come alive through the building blocks of twenty-six letters thrown on a page in random combinations.
Words are magic for some of us.
And in lies the realization I’ve come to through daily journaling.
Writing is a gift and, no, not a gift as in a talent, but a gift as in an offering. A chance to create something only YOU can give the world. Something unique and real and one of a kind. We all grew up learning the same letters, the same words. We all were taught the same sentence structures, the same grammar rules. Yet, how is it, twenty people can look at the same sentence, and all walk away with a different take on it?
We all come into this world with a brain that no one else can replicate. As we grow, we accumulate experiences that further broaden our distinctive voice.
I have learned, even if what I put on paper is horrendous, it is my voice. It is memories and emotions from my heart. It is daily struggles and successes in my life. Someday that might truly matter to someone; someday it might make someone else feel a little less alone. So, what I need to be doing right now, is writing what is authentically me. After four years of daily journaling, I have quit striving toward ‘profound’. I don’t try to carefully place words perfectly across a page. Funnily enough, I don’t throw much away anymore either. I collect things on those pages which make me come alive: notes from people I love, facts on subjects I would like to study, book reviews, doodles, articles out of magazines, etc.
Things I am passionate about.
I strive for more years worth of writing down what has shaped the woman I am: mundane things, magnificent things, heart-stopping moments, and little surprises life has offered up along the way.
Reality tends to be ugly and harsh; but it’s honest in a way expectations very rarely are. However, I can still say: “This is where it all started…”