Saturday, July 16, 2005

Why am I Here?

Judith HeartSong is running an essay contest where the topic is

Why I Keep A Journal

Thought I'd give it a shot...

I jumped into a canyon.  Put on a harness, clipped it onto the safety line, said a prayer in the direction of whomever protects you from your own stupidity, and stepped off the platform.  Queenstown, New Zealand.  One hundred and nine meters.

The girl who jumped after me took forever to go.  She was scared to death.  Some rational part of her brain knew that she wanted to do this, in order to overcome her fear of heights.  But her irrational fear wasn't at all that happy with this plan, and kept pulling her back from the edge.

I didn't take very long to jump at all.  Now, you might blame this on the fact that I was so jet lagged I wasn't thinking straight, but I attribute it to the fact that I was journalling the trip.  The scared girl and I were in something of the same boat -- we were both alone, thousands of miles from our home, standing on a rickety platform over that awfully deep canyon.  But I had the advantage because I knew my little corner of the AOL J-Land community was behind me on this ... and that they'd never let me live it down if I wussed out.  As soon as I signed up to get on that shuttle out to the jump site, I knew I'd jump -- because I couldn't let my readers down.

Journalling has definitely changed the way I travel ... and for the better.  I've always travelled alone, but knowing that I'm simultaneously documenting the trip has made a world of difference.  I take more pictures (because I'll want to illustrate my entries).  I waste less time (because I hate to think of the impression I'm making if I "kill time" while in a wonderful foreign place).  I'm more willing to try new things (because I know that even if I don't enjoy the experience, I'll still have the experience itself to share).  On the whole, knowing that I'll be journalling an adventure makes me more aware of the world around me and my reaction to it. 

And the real beauty part is that it doesn't apply only to travel.  It's the exact same story when we're talking about the ol' journey we're all taking through life.  Physicists will tell you that "the act of observing affects the observed," and, through my journal, my life has all of a sudden become the observed.  And knowing that it is observed has changed it.  I am more eager to find the humor in things.  I more easily recognize my own negativity and frustration.  I take more pictures of my cat being cute.

I originally started this journal because I wanted an outlet to share my random observations -- be they about petty annoyances, disappointing movies, ridiculous news stories, the fact that I don't fit into a size 4 anymore, or whatever other thing was keeping me up at 2:30 in the morning demanding to be written.  And in all of that, I never once imagined that by giving myself that outlet, I would actually transform the way I approach the world.

9 comments:

morrowrusvd said...

I've been reading for a while now and really enjoy your thoughts.  You have an interesting way of looking at life.  Keep journaling. Tina

swibirun said...

A very good entry.  I like how you tied the Hawthorne Effect (observation) into journalling, I really hadn't thought about that until now.

Chris

mutualaide said...

An 'Ah-Ha' moment for sure during the reading of this post.

andreakingme said...

<< I didn't take very long to jump at all.  Now, you might blame this on the fact that I was so jet lagged I wasn't thinking straight, but I attribute it to the fact that I was journalling the trip.   ...   I knew my little corner of the AOL J-Land community was behind me on this ... and that they'd never let me live it down if I wussed out. As soon as I signed up to get on that shuttle out to the jump site, I knew I'd jump -- because I couldn't let my readers down.  >>

Perfect. And ... poop. There goes MY chance of winning! But I'm so yee-haw for you, Z Girl. I hope you win this one.  

madmanadhd said...

There definitely does seem to be an AOL journal community. People pray for each other, cheer each-other on, offer suggestions, tips, and encouragement. As I ponder what I should write in an entry I consider the readers and somehow that can shape my entry. When I travel I gather observations like souvenirs to bring back and share with others through the eyes of my journal.

Good entry, made me think. Best of luck with the contest.

Not an entry but here is what I was talking about in regards to recording my observations.
Michael
 
http://journals.aol.com/madmanadhd/ConfessionsofaMadmanInsightsinto/entries/1269

realitycheckmco said...

great work.
M

judithheartsong said...

very nicely done and I had to smile at recognized similarities. judi

oceanmrc said...

I love this entry, and I referenced it in my own.

libragem007 said...

Hello ;-)
New to your journal which I found through Judith's contest comment link.
It's great having a journal, isn't it? ;-)
Goodluck!
Journally Yours,
Gem ;-)