Where I write

Where I write

March 12, 2015

Secrets that We Keep

    Journals make people nervous. Let me be more specific. Having someone who knows us find and read our journal can produce as much anxiety as walking naked on a public street. Unless you live in nudist camp, but I bet even people who wander in the buff keep their journals private if not his or her privates private. Above are my two journals that are at least 15 year's old. I'm not a journal writer, but at one time I tried. I got bored with my own thoughts. But that's just me.

 One journal is full and the other half full, both contain a lot of angst, and fear and a whole lot of whining. I wouldn't want the world to read either. But then journal writing is not intended for an audience. 

     Journals are suppose to be a safe place to express one's feelings knowing that no one else will ever read what is written.  In a perfect world that is.  I knew a woman who  burned her journals for fear what she wrote would be read. (My imagination sprang to life when she told me that. Had she robbed a bank? Been married 10 times?)  Some people store journals in secret locations. Other people freak out when they lose their journal. I've met people who  refuse to even write in a journal for fear it might someday be read.
    Recently, the writer Anne Lamott said in an interview that she was thrilled when her deceased father's journal was given to her by a woman who had lived with her father. It probably felt as if he had come back to life, if only on the page. Anne said she loved her dad, a writer, a lot and they were close. He died some years ago. She had some happy expectations when she opened his journal.  Much to her surprise her dad wrote some nasty things about her and her lifestyle at the time. She was angry and deeply hurt. How does one yell at a dead person? Eventually, she was able to put it in perspective and forgive him. Still, it stung, as of course it would. Spoken words can be forgotten but when it is in black white. Harder to forget and forgive.

     Then there are the old fashioned letters. Remember them? How quaint the concept now seems, paper, envelopes and stamps.
   In this book that literary critics panned, but the public loved, a farm woman in Iowa dies and her children find her old love letters. The steamy letters were written by the loyal wife and mother to a handsome photographer of historic bridges who had passed through town. The letters are hot enough to warm up a cold Iowa night.  The farm woman and the photographer enjoyed more together than old wood buildings over water. Though the book was fiction, the premise was believable enough for it to be a best seller. Probably because we all have known or heard of someone who stumbles across an old letter(s)of a deceased relative. And we think we know people, right?

    Then there is email. We hit delete and it feels as if our words are gone forever. We are safe. Maybe not. 
Hillary is a prime example. Her emails will be made public. Whatever your politics, the thought that someone would publish all my emails makes me cringe. My mundane  emails about whether I should cut my hair, what I had for dinner, and discussions of how Enrique Iglesias is more handsome without the mole, would make people know how truly shallow I really am. 

Hillary said she mentions her yoga classes in her email. I don't blame her. Yoga is tough. 
    Maybe as I sometimes do, Hillary complained  about yoga teachers who expect us to be like circus performers. Maybe she said, "How can the teacher expect me to put my feet over my head without wrenching my back? I'm not 25 anymore." 

   Finally, I don't know what keeps me holding on to my two journals. Maybe I just like to read them now and then and feel smug at how much wiser, secure and happier I am now. Or maybe I read them and think I haven't changed all that much. Or maybe I just don't like to throw away anything I've written. 

      I'll end with a  quote from Anne Lamott. I promise not to write a mean thing about any of my family or friends. Until you are all dead. Then all bets are off. If I die first, go ahead and say what you like about me. Just don't read my journal.


Rita A. said...

Great post. As a genealogist I love old, old letters. But I didn't let the family read my niece's journals after she was gone. You take a big chance reading somebody else's private journals, and have to live with that.

SunsetCindi said...

I have my journals from eons ago and am curious as to what they may hold and wonder if and when I'll ever get to read them again. But I hold on to them as they are parts of me that maybe I will treasure one day when and if I no longer remember who I am.