Aug 01

Losing My Way In Journaling

Journal EntryI was recently sifting through the journals I wrote from my first journey to India.    It was a bit of a shock.  After all the years since these travels I recalled vividly certain episodes and would frequently tell others stories about these experiences.  These are stories that I have held dear to me and people have come to know me, in part, by these stories.  So it was unsettling when I began to read my journal entries that there was no mention of these events.   How is it that what I wrote about has no relationship to what I now recall?  And contemplating this now is offering up an interesting lesson in how we make life significant for ourselves.


The whole idea of journaling is often tied up with preservation and documenting events.  And like many before me the writing allows for a sort of thinking out loud and hopefully aids in the integration of what is experienced.  In deed, there are entries that reflect the struggles of how I was thinking about my life at the time and the future directions I wanted it to take.  And there were lots of scheming and momentary planning about how to execute these dreams.  All in all, with the perspective of time these entries have diminished in significance and have evaporated. 


What stayed are the stories I have repeatedly told to others and that continue to haunt the passage ways of my mind.  I find it amazing how these stories still vibrate with energy and meaning for me.  And yet I never wrote them down.  Perhaps this was done to avoid fixing them like you do with butterflies and insects.  Maybe I didn’t want to relegate them to some museum collection that only collects dust.  I wanted for these memories to stay alive in me.


I surmise that this strategy has worked.  The key was in the many re-tellings of these stories.  Through my sharing with others I actively deepened the impressions the original experiences made on me.  You might say I grooved a pathway in my brain that over time made it easier to travel down when desired. 


Several ideas have formulated in me as a result of thinking about this.  I believe some may be instructive to others regarding how they attempt to bring back their discoveries from their travels. 


Firstly, limit what you write about in your journals.  Making such entries can often kill the process you may want to stay in touch with.  Further more, you can end up spending an awful lot of time writing and less time absorbing the surrounding environments you find yourself in.  It is a delicate balancing act to record experience and to live it. 


If at all, and this parallels how I developed my GlobalWalkabouts Process, reflect on only the top one or two experiences that impressed you on any given day.  Attempting to journal like some foreign correspondent may ultimately swamp you with too much information and get you lost in details that are most often not relevant to what your inner journey is about.


Your journey is always unique.  As we recollect our experiences we have a chance to see where we were coming from and where we may have been going.  By allowing those impressions that “really stick” to be logged you can begin to discern a trajectory of what is trying to emerge in your life.


However, for these entries to really matter requires some reflection and integration.   This means rolling them out periodically and letting them breathe.  So the telling of your narrative is not meant to provide a recounting of your outer journey.  Rather it is the reconnecting with the impulse that was stimulated in you while traveling that needs expression.


The second point I want to make grows out of the first.  By collecting the most “significant” impressions of the day you can begin to discern patterns that often hint at what you are working on in your life.  There is a reason why these events stick out.  They are pointing the way to something else in you that is trying to emerge.  These impressions can form the backbone for the narrative of your journey.  I would venture to say that the story that unfolds reflects who you are on a more “mythic” level.   


Ultimately, all journeys have this archetypal or mythic dimension to them.  I believe this underlies the motivation for why we “hit the road” in the first place.  We all have a Calling in life and we already are embarked on a Hero’s Quest unbeknownst to us.  Travel can provide an excellent scaffolding to lay out and bring to light how we are actualizing this dimension of ourselves.  Through such reflection and recounting we keep alive that vital spark that elevates our lives with purpose and meaning.



  1. Iris Stanfield

    Hi Jeff, Enjoyed the blog as always. Very telling and informative. I know what you mean about journaling, and then going back to read years later and being amazed by what you left out. I found that when I wrote down something brief like, I’m sitting ______, it is a beautiful morning, and the breeze is brushing my face, etc. etc. I can feel the mood I was in, and that brings back clear memories of a time I really was feeling blessed and contented. Those are journal writings that I return to every now and again to relive those really great feelings and they enhance my memory of the time. Thanks for this neat reminder…I’m about to look for that journal! Keep up the good work. iris

  2. muhammad

    Basically nice weblog. It was invaluable for me. Keep sharing this kind of ideas in the foreseeable future as well. This is actually things i was looking for, using this program . glad to came right here! Thanks for sharing the similarly info with us

  3. Charles

    Hey Jeff, liked this entry. I have been journaling on and off for 6 or 7 years now, maybe more. I really like your perspective and info around what journaling can do for us and what it’s not necessarily about.

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