I often think of journaling as a discipline.
We often ascribe the term to some monastic population. In truth much of our lives are a discipline, but they come in three forms: in thought, in hand, in practice.
In thought is where most of our discipline lives. It is the end of a calendar year. Weight Watchers. Millions of people will start something in the new year. We mentally decide which things to change, which ways to do it and even how we will be after it.
A lot of my journals are “in thought” Thinking about the act of journaling or a topic or phrase. Some end up on the page some continue to float above my head and yet many others have blown away by the days and weeks of daily activity.
Discipline “in hand” is where we too often receive our satisfaction. Those new pair of running shoes, seeing that colleague or friend at the gym or the cashiers face as she rings up those healthy frozen dinners. I call this section: “in hand” because for me, it is holding the journal. Having the journal seen by others. I use composition notebooks. I like the price and simplicity. There are also journals at bookstores. The cute lettering on the outside. Is the lettering for the writer or the observer? Is it to say, “Why yes. I do write my thoughts?” I often wait for that question. I am too easily congratulated by myself and others. Because the road does not congratulate the runner nor the water the swimmer. The church pew doesn’t say “good job” when one’s hands are folded in reverence. A discipline in practice is often thankless, messy, lonely, frustrating yet fulfilling, completing, communal, and joyous. My journal sometimes sucks the ink out of my pen and then often the ink doesn’t want to stick. The problem is I don’t know if it will stick. It is not my job to know. My job is to be there and work. Knowing that evidently, it will stick. Basketball players know the only way to get out of shooting slump is to shot-not pass or rebound. There is a mindful forgetfulness. I can’t focus on what I don’t do- well or not at all. I commit to today’s work.
I call the last section “in practice” because in discipline there is no completion. There is practice and more practice. There is one way that you can practice: start. It is a simple act of will.