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For the journey: an ode to the journal

YouTube recommended a video to me recently, that had a thumbnail cover that read “one-minute habits.” The algorithm serves me up a fair amount of this content because of my interests and searches. It thinks I want to figure life out. I do, and I am. More than anything though, I want to see people’s stories, processing and learnings, over the before and after.

Life isn’t a set of rules and habits. It’s a journey that can’t be hacked - you have to travel along it.

Some things require effort. Life is one of those things. It can’t be ‘aesthetic,’ which is my latest bugbear word. It can be presented as such, but those aesthetics are nothing more than clipped-together edits with a filter on them that create a version of the truth. We’re encouraged - and sometimes want - all the figuring out of life to be distilled down to the shortest essence. We want the headlines, the highlights, the hacks or the TL;DR (too long; didn’t read). The TL;DR of life? It doesn’t exist. And if it did, it would be: do it. Taste it and see. Try. Experience it.

We have to feel our feelings and feel our way through in order to figure life out. Sometimes that will look like large strides. At others, it may feel like we’re crawling along the floor, convinced that each forward movement is taking the last ounce of strength that we have. There have also been many times when feeling my way through life has involved prolonged periods of perceived or actual stillness. That stillness, that processing is still movement, even if not detectable by the human eye.

The words journal and journey both share the same word root, meaning ‘day.’ I see my journal as a companion to my journey through life. And that’s why I love it: it sees and helps me process it all, day by day.

Over time, the word journal has transitioned from meanings in the 12th century of ‘daily’ or ‘of the day,’ to ‘inventory of accounts,’ ‘account-book’ or ‘day-book,’ in the 15th century. All modern interpretations of the word settle on the idea of a record or log that is kept daily, regularly or periodically.

I found that the word journey, derives from Old French with the quite beautiful meaning “one’s path in life.”

A journal then can quite easily be referred to as ‘a day book for one’s path in life.’ It’s for the travelling, the processing and the reflection.

I don’t look for massive change, proclamation or decision-making on my journal pages, as in an average day, week, month or even year - how many of those do we make? But what I can and do, is build on hearing my voice and my thoughts, so that when those big moments come up, I don’t have to battle so hard to determine what is from me - from my mind and my heart - and what isn’t. And that alone makes decision-making so much easier.

TL;DR? While you can’t hack your way through life, you can bring tools along with you that aid the processing and navigating the path. My journal does exactly that.

New to journalling? Try my How to Journal guide, and discover more journalling tips, prompts and spaces to do it on my YouTube channel.