Every now and then, I just like to work on a different device. Sometimes it’s the iPad, sometimes it’s a typewriter, sometimes it’s a notebook and a Bic pen.
The point is, I feel compelled to write. Sometimes I write just to put a thought on paper; sometimes I write because I have a bone to pick. Sometimes I see something happen that I puzzle over, and writing helps me sort it out. I have kept a journal, off-and-on, since 1971. It exists in many forms: hard-bound journals from before my first divorce, loose typewritten sheets from my free-lance writing days, spiral-bound notebooks from my time in Corporate America.
I have resolved that at some point in my fledgling retirement, I will organize these entries chronologically and piece together a rough timeline of my life and thoughts for my progeny to read and upon which to ruminate. While that may seem a little self-serving, it’s something that I’ve promised myself that I’ll do; my great-grandfather Henry Losure kept a similar journal. I’ve found it to be a source of insight and reflection – it’s a series of snapshots in one man’s life, but it’s one man who has had an immense impact on my own. He was kind of a hero to my mother, and as such, the traits that she found most admirable and gracious in him, she attempted to instill in her sons. So every now and then, when I struggle for a glimpse of meaning or context or just a quiet, personal giggle, I’ll read from the Journal of Henry Losure.
A few entries:
“Woman’s mind is like a day in April; bright in patches, but a little tricky.”
“When a man grows old, the floor of his brain-box becomes corroded and gets littered up, and he cannot always dig up what he is looking for.”
“If everybody was as good as their associates think they should be, it would not be a bad place to live.”
“A fortune bequeathed to a son many times costs him nothing; and he usually values it at cost.”
“If some people’s brain was as broad and active as their mouth, we would have many giant intellects.”
There are poems, essays on the Big Issues of his day – Freud, women’s suffrage, The Depression, The New Deal. He lived and died in small-town Indiana, but his world-view seemed to span the globe. A keen observer of human behavior, he didn’t appear to suffer fools gladly; but at the same time, he didn’t take himself too seriously. He knew that time is fleeting; that Life is dear, and short. And he was able to hit on a few universal truths when it comes to Mankind:
“It is not the man that makes the most noise that says the most.
The answer is:
His mouth is filled with words better than his head is filled with brains. If we would talk less and listen more, we would know more. Time, observation, extensive reading and hard study is the foundation of knowledge.”
And a poem on getting older:
“I love to hear you children laugh. You seem so little and gay.
And I am feeling pretty well, on my sixty-eighth birthday.
I haven't stepped far out in space. As many men have done.
To set a guidepost or leave a trace – so I lost and they have won.
But time is fleet, it's but a span. It's just a little while.
But it is said we are once a man, and twice a little child.
But now you listen to what I say – just keep your conscience clear.
And you will find in after-day , you haven't naught to fear.”
Not a bad take on things. I just hope my great-grandkids get the same kick out of my ramblings.
How about you? Do you keep a journal? And for whom? You? Spouse? Kids? Just a way to sort things out?