Luke: There’s something not right here. … I feel cold. Death.
Yoda: [points to a cave opening beneath a larger tree] That place … is strong with the dark side of the force. A domain of evil it is. In you must go.
Luke: What’s in there?
Yoda: Only what you take with you.
Yesterday evening, I listened to a webinar called Freeing Your Soul Through Writing. It was essentially a promotion for a $300 7-week online writing course but it contained the basic tenets of journaling as a practice and some interesting ideas to consider when writing a journal. I’m not taking the course but I like the idea behind doing it and I’m going to give it a try. Today at lunch I wrote bout three pages in a composition book as kind of an overview of why I’m doing it. Without further ado, I present my first official journal attempt.
Thursday, 24 March 2016
I’ve been thinking about last night’s writing webinar and I feel motivated to write using some of his suggestions. Writing has always been a creative and sometimes healing outlet for me although I’ve neglected it for quite a while. My writing muscles have atrophied and my creativity has dried up but getting back into the practice will help fix that.
In his take he suggested writing about a secret or something about which you feel shame. He called it exorcising the shame. These journals will be private, for my amusement and catharsis alone. This way I will be able to be brutally honest and truthful with myself. Overall, I think it will be a good exercise for me.
I generally dislike secrets and I try to be as open and transparent as I possibly can. That’s my intention but I sometimes feel that it’s just a facade and a delusion. Maybe I”m kidding myself about my transparency and my openness. Perhaps I lack the courage needed to be open and transparent.
There are many chapters in my life that I have not opened up to anyone about, sometimes even myself. Many of these stories are locked away in a vault in my mind while others are buried in unmarked graves in my cemetery of shame. I keep them hidden away hoping they will never be accessed. But nothing secret can remain hidden forever. Everything eventually comes into the light.
Why am I suppressing my secret stories, my own truth? They may be unpleasant, embarrassing, malicious, or self-serving but they are part of my history, the threads of the fabric of my life that have led me to the present moment. Even if I spend the rest of my life telling people that “I don’t want to talk about it” or “That is not open to discussion” or “I can neither confirm nor deny”, at least I will have been honest with myself, delved into the truth behind the events, and accepted them for what they are.
Telling the truth is important to me but often it must be tempered with discretion, compassion, and kindness. Doing no harm should always take precedence if telling the truth would be unkind, unnecessary, or harmful. That doesn’t mean we should lie or deceive. Sometimes silence or a no comment is appropriate. No one said it would be easy. While sometimes withholding parts of my story from others has merit but withholding it from myself is delusional or potentially harmful.
Occasionally, there is a need to enter the vault of dark stories and dust off the archives in order to review them with a critical eye and a hopefully unbiased analytical and critical mind. Likewise, it’s necessary for me to venture into the cemetery to exhume the bodies to perform autopsies and, if required, administer last rites. I need to call out the ghosts and demons to make peace with them so that I can find resolution and let them rest. I might still maintain an outward silence about my ghosts and demons but I will finally be at peace with them.
Fear runs deeper in my psyche that I’d given it credit for. I need to put aside my fears of what dwells within so I can get below the superficial layers and go deeper than I’ve gone before. In my yoga and meditations practices I’ve very rarely allowed myself to really let go of the ego and actually surrender to my feelings, my intuition, my gut. I’ve only looked just below the surface. I’ve stayed at the shallow end of the pool where it’s relatively safe and I can keep my head above the water. To move forward on the path, I need to venture into deeper water, letting it envelop me. That will take faith in what I know intellectually but to know it intuitively, I must let go of the intellect, surrender to my intuition and have faith that I will not drown.
Another thing I’ve considered is that I have no reasonable expectation of privacy and my journals could be inadvertently read by someone who might be hurt by the revelations I write. This should not dissuade me from being truthful with myself and telling it like it is. I don’t want to resort to keeping my journals under lock and key.
I’ve thought about the consequences of my journals surviving me. Should I keep them in a locked box with instructions to destroy the contents in the event of my untimely death? I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable about having my private journals read or published posthumously, at least not until several generations have passed.
With these concerns in mind I’ve decided to muster the courage to wade into the deep end of the pool or to venture into the dark cave. As Yoda said to Luke when asked what was in the cave, “Only what you take with you.”