Feed The Yogi
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Documents for no one

What an epic day yesterday! I cleaned out a storage unit full of stuff of my mom’s that hadn’t been looked at for 12 years. Going through so many boxes of documents and papers, little scraps of things she had saved, journals, diaries, address books, letters, receipts… I thought about the boxes and files and folders that I have in Portland full of much of the same, and I wonder what is it that is so compelling about documentation that we save it??

12 years of dust

I was talking to a friend about journaling a few weeks ago and she said that after she finishes a journal she throws it away. “Why?” I asked, slightly horrified by the idea of it, “I don’t know,” she responded, “it just feels right.” In the moment of that interaction I had a strong feeling of attachment and sentimentality to not only my own journals but the boxes (and boxes and boxes) of journals left behind by my mom who died when I was 17. I have hauled various collections of those journals to two different continents, three different countries and probably about fifteen different houses. For the most part they have stayed in their boxes, though on occasion I’ve read small bits of them. I guess there’s some part of me that hopes one day I’ll sit down, go through them all and somehow come to know my mom better and have the long-desired perspective I wish for on my own life and how it’s been shaped by the choices she made and the experiences she had.

Why did I keep this rocking chair? Garage sale item now.

When I was a teenager I made beautiful, artistic journals and scrap books that are full of angsty poetry and über romantic prose. After my mom died I stopped journaling for almost ten years and I can tell you that it’s the few years after her death that I wish I had documentation from. From age 17 until 23 or 24 my memory is pretty spotty, and I have almost no memories from the two years right after she died, just very vague kind of locational memories- I was here or there, these were my friends, this was my job- but no real memory of how I felt or the details of what I did… Two years ago, inspired by the morning pages, I started journaling again. These journals aren’t beautiful scrapbooks and I’m sure they’d be fairly boring to my teenage self. They are all black-bound hardcover journals, most days written with 2-3 pages and a 5-line poem, all dated, written mostly in blue or black ink. Boring, boring, boring. I feel the same way about these recent journals as I do about my mom’s. Someday maybe I’ll read them, or perhaps someday I won’t be around and someone else will find clarity (or maybe entertainment) or comfort with them. But until then, do I keep moving around with all these things?

Stan piled to the brim with boxes of journals and papers

And why does it matter? I know I’m not the only one who saves their journals, or moves around with someone else’s… Why are these stories so important? Have you ever found the answers, comfort, resolution or even entertainment you desired from old journals or documents? Why do we think it’s so important to record the past? Does the perspective offered by these materials somehow change or alter or improve the reality of the present moment? Is it better to just enjoy the catharsis of writing and then let it go?

Rumi quote

Or is it worth all that carrying around to find reminders like this?


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