A not uncommon conversation for me over the years: What are you going to do with your journals when you die, or before you die? What instructions will you leave for whether or not they can be read, by whom, when, what can be shared? Or will you destroy them all at some point?
A poet friend records current events and notable weather in her journals, because she plans to leave them to be read and she figures that’s what people will want to know about — what was happening in the world, not in her head.
Which is what my journals are full of. There’s some recounting of events, but much of it is I’m anxious, I’m worried, I’m upset. . . blah, blah, blah. Another poet friend admits the same. “My journals are blah, blah, blah over and over.” Not that the blah isn’t important, it is to us, that’s why we’re writing it. But it probably would be boring to most other people, and would paint a false picture, anyway.
When my mood is mostly even and good I don’t journal much, I do it when I’m confused, when something is upsetting me and I need to figure it out. I write in my journal when I’m anxious because the act of getting worrisome thoughts on paper loosens their uncomfortable grip a bit. I’m honest in my journals about all the ways I’m quirky and irritable and over think the shit out of way too much.
So do I want anyone to read all of that? Would anyone want to? I’m talking serious numbers of journals — 82, including my blue plastic bound Ponytail Dear Diary with a brass lock (key long gone) from grade school.
Jon brought me three of Chris’s journals last week. He wondered if I wanted to read them. He doesn’t want to right now, though he wants to keep the journals. Do I want to read them? Should I? I’ve peeked in to them and so far haven’t read anything that I didn’t hear Chris talk about or haven’t read in her essays. Chris didn’t hide her feelings and worries and struggles. I loved that about her, her honesty about all of life, the joy and the hard road of living with metastatic cancer.
Chris took journaling classes in her last years, and in one she made a cover for the journal she was using. It’s beautiful. Right now it’s at the top of the journal stack on the side of my desk. I love looking at it. I don’t know if I’ll read it.