I’m down to the last page in my journal. It’s only taken me 15 years to fill it. And full it is. There is nothing like a brand new journal and it’s blank pages waiting for you to document your pondering, your perspective, your life. There is also nothing more terrifying. As a pre-teen, I tried starting journals 100 times. I always wanted lined pages so I could write neatly and perfectly document my every day. Based on the tidy dates in the corners, this usually lasted about a week. Later, as a teenager, I wrote the detailed stories of my angst, my heartbreak, and my woe… as if that’s all there was. It wasn’t until my mid 20’s, after the birth of my daughter, my divorce and my move back home that I discovered what my journal could be to and for me.
I imagine journaling styles come in all forms. I don’t write dates, I don’t name names, I just write whatever specific or broad thought I have, whenever I have it. Despite this lack of order, I can still look back through my decade and a half of life and remember when my heart was aching, when I got engaged, when my grandmother died, when the kids where born, times when I was depressed, times when I was at peace. I started a list of Lessons with pages kept clean to add to it. I still have a few open pages there and I return to it with the guidance of a book mark I found in my grandmother’s last bedside book. Collections of happiness, grief, , frustration, philosophies and joy.
I found this journal in a little shop during a summer visit to Buena Vista, CO. There was nothing special about the black spiral notebook. I was with my Auntie and I remember her being unimpressed with my desire to buy a journal with the black and white photo of a park bench under the shade of a tree. I had very little money to spare and the $15 or so was an extravagance. But somehow it drew me in as a place I wanted to sit, to center myself, and just be. And so it began.
My first entries were of the love and life I was hoping for. But it was not just the pages that I began to fill. Letters and keepsake notes lead to clippings of things I found profound and eventually, because I write whenever the mood strikes, scraps of papers where I’d jotted down a thought and torn out notebook pages with lyrics from my song writing phase. There is even a napkin or two. And this became my journaling style. It’s far from the lined and dated pages of childhood or the agonized story-telling of my adolescence. It’s messy, random, colorful and full. It’s my life on paper.
As I look through all of this, I realize, “This is me.” I’ve captured my deepest thoughts. My philosophies. My growth. I’ve collected pieces of myself over fifteen years and jammed them into a book. And now what? When my grandmother died, we found a scrapbook of poetry and stories she had collected. It was such a beautiful glimpse into her younger, more optimistic and romantic self. But it was just a glimpse. When our friend John Lewis died, a group of us gathered to try and understand how to capture his essence, his wisdom and share and teach it to others. He was a story teller. Everyone knew his stories and benefited from his advice and guidance, but there was so little documentation and we scrambled to piece something together. Well, mine is here. Open to all who care to meander. So, when I’m gone and people wonder “who was Amy Reeves Robinson?”, here I’ll be. A fragile, loved, stacked and stuffed life in progress.
Although it will be hard to write the last lines and tuck it away, there are no more pages, and the writing must go on. So I am closing this book. It will go back in my bedside table where I can add to my Lessons and occasionally rummage through the memories and the me that was, while I forge forth toward the me that will be. Blank pages await!