Skip to main content

Journaling for Millennia, Not Just for Millennials

Despite my best efforts to promote the call to "BE BESTIAL," it seems that one of the hottest New Year's resolutions this year is... journaling.

While that isn't a very "bestial" practice at all, it is kinda visceral if you do it by hand in a stream of disorganized consciousness. People with lives fancy enough to allow the time and space for rumination and anxiety disorders have been journaling as self-care since ancient times. As Candida Moss writes for The Daily Beast,

Apparently many wealthy, educated [ancient] Roman men struggled with feelings of anxiety. These were men who were already trying to live what we might call 'self-aware' lives: they studied philosophy, they lived in moderation, and they tried to regulate their behaviors. And yet, all the same, they would feel psychic distress. Anxiety, it turns out, is not just a modern phenomenon that only affects 'spoiled millennials;' it is actually a millennia-old condition. Roman authors diagnose different reasons for distress (many of which were tied to acquisitiveness) but self-examination through journaling was one of the technologies by which a person could hope to achieve what we might call ‘inner peace.’

I've journaled on and off throughout my life, starting sometime around kindergarten or first grade. My second-grade daughter journals a few times a week in an adorable, sparkly notebook with a kitty face and a tiny padlock. I received a new journal as a Christmas gift this year, so I've restarted my own practice--but this time, instead of documenting each day at its end, I am writing down my thoughts upon waking up in the morning. Then I transition to creative writing (working on Matka Danu), and when it's quitting time, I record how much time I spent writing and how I feel about the work I've just done.

After only a few days, the results are kind of amazing. I've already uncovered my greatest stumbling block against productivity--not online distractions but real people. Go figure. My family members bumbling around the house and interrupting me--a lovable distraction but a sticky one nevertheless. And also the background psychic interference of people-stress carried over from work and neighborhood drama.

I'm sure all writers have experienced those little epiphanies throughout life, when simply realizing the cause of a problem--often through stream-of-conscious journaling--helps us to let it go immediately. It's like noticing where you're holding tension in your body--face, shoulders, stomach, wherever--and releasing it all at once. Ahhhh.

Starting this journal has helped me re-start my work-in-progress after a holiday break, with a fresher mind and a clearer sense of purpose. And I find that when I attend to my human issues first thing in the morning, I can really get out there and BE BESTIAL during the day.

Happy 2019, fellow human people!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

35 Great Things About Turning 35

The prime of life starts at 35! It's the best-kept secret from younger people, but your 35th birthday is a major cause for celebration. For mine, I have made my own listicle of 35 reasons why experts agree that 35 is the best age to be:
You get to say, "I'm 35." The number 35 carries so much more gravitas than 30, but you're only a few years older. At 34, I've started fudging my age--by adding a year. People automatically take me seriously, and if they don't, at least they tell me I look young for my age. (Eye roll, hair toss, "whatever.")  35-year-olds DGAF. Inner chill reaches new heights at 35. Despite its #2 status on this list, it's the #1 response I hear about what's best about hitting 35. My gorgeous friend Nerlie was beautiful and resilient and wise beyond her years in high school, but now, at age 35, she gets to fully enjoy being herself on her own terms. She writes,  "I've survived so much that I don't waste time o…

A Bad Romance Starring Till Lindemann, Sophia Thomalla, Gavin Rossdale, Simone Thomalla, Sven Martinek, Andy LaPlegua, and Leila Lowfire

November 2018 Update: Sophia is settled in with Gavin a young soccer player (like mother like daughter) now, I guess, and Till is spending time with 36-year-old (hell yeah, thank you, sir) Ukrainian singer Svetlana Loboda. He is either her latest babydaddy or doing her the favor of bearding as such (not that he's great with beards, but we don't mind--we know how much he loves pregnant and lactating ladies) to help her keep some distance from her crazy ex who cuts his wrists over her. The juice continues...


To misquote Gaga, "I don't speak German, but I can look at foreign tabloids and guess what's going on if you like."


I guess it would be more professional and ladylike for me to be above this sordid celebrity gossip, but I'm not. I'm so not.


So let's see if I've got this straight. From what I gather...


Metalgod Till Lindemann, 54, and model Sophia Thomalla, 27 (upper left) recently exited a five-year, on-off, opennish relationship, which bega…

Laying Down My Should-Shield to Follow a Could

There is a contrary wisdom in the opposite of Jeff Goldblum's famous quote from Jurassic Park: "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." 

"What should I do?" is a perfectly useful question to ask in a life-or-death situation involving dangerous megafauna on the loose. The classic fight-or-flight response primes our bodies and minds and helps us narrow our focus to a brief set of options so we can answer that question with immediate action.

This response is rarely helpful in the context of contemporary, real-life stressors such as writer's block or weather that might ruin weekend plans.

Like this bombogenesis thing coming at Michigan right now.

This week, the afterglow of my family vacation to Florida has worn off, and we are facing down a fresh hell called "bombogenesis" (a "weather bomb" or rapidly intensifying sh**storm) which is affecting weekend plans, moods, bo…