"Keep a Diary and someday it will keep you."
Today marks the 9th anniversary of my keeping a blog or, as I prefer to think of it, an online journal. This journal is in its 10th year!
This is my 570th entry since I first started doing this back on March 26, 2006. While the content of my journaling has evolved over the years, from being primarily about motorcycle trips to being a journal of family time, destination races and vacations, one thing has never changed. It represents my own personal view of how those events unfolded.
My very first entry was to record my experience finishing my very first Saddle Sore 1000, an Iron Butt Association entry level ride that, once successfully completed and documented, gained me membership into this long distance endurance riding organization. Not only did I write about the chronological facts of the whole affair, but I also wrote about what was going on in my mind as I rode along on my motorcycle across I-10 to my finish destination.
Certainly the facts can easily be verified for this or any other event for that matter. But the emotions and feelings and opinions and all those fleeting thoughts...not so much. Completing this event was for me very similar emotionally to completing my very first full marathon. It's a hard challenge, one that not many people accomplish. The need to capture all of these emotions and feelings swirling through my head led to my creating this journal and making my first journal entry.
While many of the entries simply document the day-to-day chronology of, say, a motorcycle trip or a race, many other entries were the culmination of accumulated thoughts, ideas, feelings, and opinions that resided without shape in my head. These formless thoughts would often start to take shape while I was out for a long run or on a long motorcycle trip. The need to capture them into my diary was sometimes urgent and I spent many nights in hotel rooms on my laptop, pulling those unspoken words from my brain and channeling them down through my fingers and into the keyboard. Some of my more creative journal entries have come from sessions such as this.
Some of my favorite journal entries:
What is That Smell??
Fleas For the Mind
Bad Start, Good Ending
For me, keeping an online journal is, first and foremost, done for my own personal fulfillment. Hopefully, it collaterally provides some edification and a little entertainment to the reader. It's not monetized. It's not publicized. I do it because I enjoy writing, enjoy putting my thoughts and experiences, feelings - and yes, opinions - down into words. I do it so that I will have a written record with photographs - an online scrapbook - of my wonderful trips, my beautiful family, and my running and motorcycling accomplishments and, more importantly, to capture what I was feeling when all of these events were happening.
I keep a journal to help me gain mental clarity. I do it to improve insights into my life. I do it to see how much my life and my goals have changed and evolved over time. I do it because the very act of sitting down at a keyboard and putting all of those thoughts, ideas, opinions, and viewpoints into words has sometimes helped me sort through all of the "noise" to find meaning and answers to the puzzles and mysteries that need resolution.
In the first couple of years of keeping this online journal, I published some selected entries related to specific trips into softcover books using Blurb. I did it so that I could easily pick up the book and browse through it to remember and reminisce. In 2011, I published a softcover book of all journal entries going all the way back to the beginning. Not the best idea....the resulting book was huge and unwieldy!
Now, at the end of each year, I publish the year's journal entries into a softcover book and take extra effort to enlarge the better photos so that the resulting diary book is more enjoyable for me to browse through. And occasionally I will pick up one of my printed journals and read a few pages here and there, look at the photographs, and relive the events all over again. Even my grandkids have started going through them, laughingly pointing out the photos of themselves and each other when they were younger.
If I've taken a special trip during the year, I will publish a separate softcover book of just those journal entries and photographs. My trip to Alaska in particular made a very nice stand-alone journal book. My published books are never available for public purchase; they are only for my own private collection.
When I'm very old and unable to continue my journaling, when the online photo albums and journal/blog websites have long gone out of business and closed down, I'll have my books and my captured memories. When my grandkids ask me what life was like when I was younger, I can point to this journal.
Read more about the benefits of journaling:
1: Psych Central: Health Benefits of Journaling
2.. LifeHack: Start Doing It Today
3. Famous Writers On Keeping a Journal
4. Journaling For Mental Health