Friday, January 06, 2012
I had it backwards!
I love to document things. I have fun making all sorts of lists and I especially enjoy journaling. I've been keeping a daily diary for years now; in fact, in 2009 I bought a 10-year journal that allows one small paragraph for each day of each year encompassing the decade from 2009 through 2019. I may record anything - the title of an old movie we watched, or what Ed cooked for dinner, or maybe how things are going at work. (I've got some excellent documentation of how many inches of snow we shoveled...and shoveled...and shoveled last January!) I also have a journal on my iPad where I record my health progress for the day. I also keep a running to-do list where I delete items after I complete the tasks. Mostly, though, I just write about events of my day.
I, of course, do these things at the end of the day. Well, duh, you have to wait until something happens before you can document it, right? At the end of each day, I sit down and write what happened - if I got any exercise done, how much sleep I got, how many lines I transcribed, if I got to post on my blog, if I managed to work on the quilt or pay bills or balance that bank statement. I sit in front of the computer or on the couch with my iPad with my various journals and reflect on my day, frequently chuckling over something funny that happened, or, in contrast, finding that I'm still stewing over a frustration at work. I also intermittently end up chastising myself for not having done the things I thought I would get done that day. I had such great plans, but now as I write the day's events down, they seem lacking. Where did the time go? How did I waste so much of it? How many people had I snapped at? Did I really eat that big piece of cake? How many times was I in such a hurry I didn't pay attention to the important things? So here I write, in the here and now, looking back in my immediate past and evaluating it.
This week I had a revelation when I read a quote from one of my Facebook friends: "The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot." Or, as I prefer to look at it, I am the author of my own story.
I realized then that I had it all backwards. I was sitting there with a keyboard or pen trying to write the story of my day, when in fact, my day's story had already been written by me. From the moment I awoke, I had been writing my story as surely as if I had held a pen to paper every second of the day. Every choice I made created another sentence in the story. Every attitude, every reaction, every bite I ate or word I said - it all went into my evolving journal. Alas, by the time I physically sat down to write, the story had been written and it would stay unchanged and forever sealed. There would be no going back, no editing, no deleting the things I regret having said or done, no adding things that I wish I had said or done - it was already written and - yes - published as it really happened. A nonfiction documentary, a self-published autobiography, in real time.
I wish I could describe the feelings of energy and power that enveloped me when I had this epiphany. To take responsibility for my own story? Really? Oh, I'll admit other people contribute to the story. (Yeah, like the nice gentleman who backed into our car last week - he tweaked my story quite a bit.) But how I reacted to his contribution? That was solely up to me.
I want to wake up and think, "What do I want to document in my journal tonight?" Then, as they say, I want to "just do it." The journal is not written after the day is done. The journal is written as soon as the day starts. If I want to laugh during the day, I will find opportunities to do so. If I want to love and feel loved, I will do that too. If I want to be in awe of the wonderful blessings I have, I will find time to pause and feel blessed. If I want to be healthier, I will eat right and find time for exercise. What goes into the story is up to me. I can document my day's story in the evening, but I certainly can't write it. That part has already been done.
Join me in this wonderful journaling as we write our own lives, minute by minute, day by day, choice by choice. It is an awesome power we have been given and just as awesome a power to waste. I never again want to feel the helplessness of looking backward, wishing things were different. I'm my own pilot, my own author, and darn it, I want to fly high with purpose and write my life with love and joy!