Daily journaling or keeping a diary is never a neat or simple task for me. It means writing down, at that moment, before the larger picture has emerged, what I’m thinking or what’s happening. It means there are tons of stops, starts, moments that could have become pivotal to an event but don’t, little petty things.
And these petty things are where I get nervous, because they often reveal the unpolished pieces of my personality that I would prefer to carefully edit out of existence or work into something more acceptable. It’s where the real bitterness, anger, and jealousy reside. While it can be fascinating to look back and see where I was, say, a few years ago, there are times it’s also very intimidating because I don’t much care for who I was or what I was thinking. Sometimes it’s clear just how wrong I was about a situation or how badly I handled something.
At one point, I considered writing out a daily journal entry and then just burning or destroying the journal at some unspecified point in the future. But I’m not a burner, I’m a saver. All those thoughts – whether they are good or not, whether I like them or not – they are a part of me. They are the record of where I have been, even if I would sometimes rather not remember or am not proud of them.
Finally, after everything – infertility, IUI, cancelled cycles, the excitement of believing we were having a baby to the despair of finding out we weren’t – I needed a place to dump all of it. Every single broken piece, every lovely moment, all the stuff that really couldn’t go on the internet, that I couldn’t blog about, that really, wasn’t for public consumption. No censors. No editing. Just a place where everything could go so that I could sort it all out eventually.
I knew I didn’t want a new journal or book. I didn’t want to be able to open those pages so easily, let a phrase or a word jump out and surprise me on a day I wasn’t in a space to reread it.
I knew I didn’t want to keep a journal on the computer. Whole pages disappear with a few keystrokes from my impatient hands or a computer failure and I did want some way to make what I wrote more tangible, more permanent. I also wanted to handwrite.
So instead of buying a new journal, I got this:
I loved the visually beautiful patterns on the origami paper. Onto the blank back of each sheet, writing poured out of me: sometimes bitterness, sometimes anger, sometimes letters or thoughts to various people, sometimes forgiveness. Sometimes it was just disjointed thoughts that had to come out before I could get to the deeper ones. Sometimes it was lashing out, swearing. Sometimes it was my hopes or prayers.
Then I folded each sheet. At first, it was awkward. I unfolded. I refolded. I got lost in the instructions. There were sloppy lines and creases all over the place. After a while, however, I started to get the hang of it. The act of folding became a part of the ritual, tactile, a meditation of sorts.
Each of my writings turned into a crane.
As I placed each one on the bookshelf next to my desk, I released whatever thoughts were contained within them. Sometimes I visualized prayers flying on the wings of birds up to heaven. Sometimes I visualized more painful, negative thoughts flying away from me. For a bit, the burden lifted, my mind would feel lighter. When I started to get overwhelmed, I’d write again, fold it, release it. If I was joyful, I’d write, fold, and be thankful.
The cranes hold my secrets, but the thoughts are not erased. If some day I need to go back, find that thought, that moment, I have the option of doing so, but I will not come across them unprepared and unready. It will take a deliberate act of will, of undoing.
I keep the cranes where I can see them easily. I add to their number most days. They are the bits and pieces, the loose ends. They represent some of the best and some of the worst of me. They are out in the open, but still maintain my privacy.
It doesn’t take away the sadness. It doesn’t take away the worries. I’m still surprised regularly how many tears there are for me to cry. It doesn’t bring me the child I ache for.
Yet every time I look at the cranes, I can see my life. Even though it is certainly no masterpiece – full of loose ends, unfinished sentences, and some moments I’d love to disavow or forget if given the option – it is whole. Everything is there.
Looking at both these posts, these writings, I realize that it is the best of all worlds. I have a place to tell my story, find a narrative arc, to practice writing as both a craft and an act of dialogue. There is now also a place for all the unfinished stories, the parts that simply wouldn’t be meaningful to anyone except me.
To be able to have both places is a gift: something beautiful.
Read Part 1 Here