October 01, 2016

My Constant Companion

Through the years, I have experienced many phases of life, all with one constant companion – my journal.

It has served different purposes and taken on many identities – mentor, friend, confidant, life coach, reference asset, travel buddy and dumping ground to name a few, but it has always been there with me.

As a confused thirty-something with a boss that had a photographic memory, it helped me remember and prioritize before he yelled at me for forgetting. It was filled with “to do” lists, timelines and pros and cons concerning largely business decisions. Soon I poured out my disappointments and heartaches among with my successes, adventures and new relationships. Life was always just a little out of control but I learned a lot about responsibility.

In my forties, I chronicled husbandry, fatherhood, my volunteer fire department activities, milestones and daily life. Those blank pages allowed me to quietly express my thoughts about the transition from business professional to father and how ill equipped I felt for that responsibility. Daily writing helped me unburden the sometimes overwhelming feelings I was having and embrace my chosen path. I recorded and devoted pages and pages to writing about vacations, birthday celebrations, meetings, testimony before Congress, white papers I wrote, books I read, conversations and pithy stuff (that I still have pages and pages of to this day.)

During the “decade of my discontent” (55 to 65) I filled the pages of my journal with cathartic passages, thoughts about an adulterous spouse and my plans for the future. I thought in the past, fretted about the future and recounted countless unfulfilled dreams. Writing helped me to realize my accomplishments, accept and appreciate my life and be less anxious about the future. I found balance.

Now, in my mid-sixties I write about joy and resignation, dreams for my grandchildrens’ lives and the peacefulness of my own. Having my journal as a constant companion for all these years enables me to have hard evidence of the journeys I have traveled. I don’t have to rely on the frailty of memories – it’s all right there penned on paper. It holds the truths of who I am and how I came to be, and it is largely responsible for molding me into the person I am today. Now, as I am forced into government retirement, I am thankful to have had such a faithful companion and look forward to the remaining years.

In late August of 2012, while enrolled in a post-Grad Harvard course, my assignment was to create a blog and write a paper on a randomly drawn topic. My topic was “Aging.” I created a blog that was a very "sanitized" version of my personal journal, but with more psychology. I like the added benefit of what I am doing, if not what I am thinking and feeling. I recommend this avenue for anyone who would like to chronicle their life, and is also ready to look inward.

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