Essay on journaling when it is difficult to journal

26-30 JAN 2017

As my trip as evolved, so too must this journal. Where once I thought I may have been able to maintain a habit of daily entries, I now see that that endeavor is a little too ambitious. Instead, I will write not every day, but at least twice a week. Most of my classes are now moving ahead, full speed, and require more of my attention. I cannot fully set aside this journal, though. I am beginning to see, comprehend, the value of journal-writing. Summer of 2016, I spent five weeks in Paris. I did a great many things, met many very interesting people, learned a lot, and explored museums thoroughly, but I did not keep a journal at the time, so I cannot give too many details of those experiences. I remember a good bit, but perhaps not as much as I would like too.

Now that I am journaling, not only can I look back and relive some experiences and remember details more clearly, I have begun to pay greater attention to things that I think I would have previously missed. I mean to say that I pay greater attention to the small details so as to have something to write about later. Life, in a way, has become much more interesting. Everything is now a story that can be told, molded, and retold. Even the mundane, the monotony, the seemingly insignificant has a way of weaving into the world of these stories. Indeed, though, sometimes I find myself grabbing the proverbial soapbox and making an essayic stand. As I am now.

It is my journal after all, so I think I am allowed this luxury. As much as I would like to tell an interesting tale from daily experiences, I must admit, quite frankly, that not everyday is interesting. I have read travel writing, and a lot of it these days is lists. Lists of what to do, where to go, how to save money, how to spend it all, etc., etc. I would prefer not to list out my personal experiences. It seems to me that the “Top Ten Blah Blah Blah” removes the magic and allure of storytelling. I say this to say that I could create a very simple list of the past five days, but I will not. But, at the same time, I am hard-pressed to spin a yarn as interesting as visiting Frankfurt on my first day back in Europe.

Perhaps a few quick vignettes, then? While not fond of lists, I cannot deny that they are undoubtedly efficient.

26 JAN

My class, Understanding Contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa: National Constructions, Democratization, and Development, is off to a good start. We discuss what the class will consist of and the professor’s goals for us. After class, I walk around town a bit, a simple, mind-clearing stroll, then meet with some friends at this place (that I believe I have mentioned before) called What the Fox.

27 JAN

I spend the majority of the day trying to research and find things for our group to do in Colmar tomorrow. I have tacos for dinner. They are good.

28 JAN

Today, eight of our group spends the day in Colmar.

I will pause this little vignette-ing here. Obviously, there are a great number of details I have omitted. Why? Because, well for one, I simply was not feeling well, but many of my friends online and here have helped with that by showing and offering their support. Two, the details seemed quite mundane or old. I find this thought of mine strange, because here I am, in a country not my own, and I am finding things uninteresting and “mundane.” What is this sensation, or rather lack thereof?

I know I might sound like I am rambling on, but for any who would read to this point and past, I think I may have stumbled onto something quite difficult to describe or express. For example, our group spent the day in Colmar.

[Unpause] We visit a town that is quite beautiful and full of color and good food and kind people.

But I find it hard to write about. I suspect this will not last, this inability to recount the details, but all the same, I am flummoxed. Why was Saturday simply not as inspiring as any of the others? Why was I not whittling away with pen and paper to carve out a much more colorful vignette?

I cannot say why because I do not know why. Perhaps it is because I am homesick. Perhaps there may be some other reason.

29 JAN

Today is better. Today, I walk around the Parc Pourtalès with Clarissia. We talk a bit about current events both local and international. Later, I buy my plane ticket to Rome, Italy. Now that is something certainly to be excited about for sure (more on this below).

30 JAN

I have breakfast, watch Michael Collins for homework, and then go to my class on the Northern Irish conflict. Now I sit here, in the library, which is quickly becoming my favorite place, my favorite, private retreat, writing this now lengthy exercise in writing-to-find-reason/writing-as-diagnosis.

/vignettes over

Reflecting on “something certainly to be excited about,” I did just buy my ticket to Rome. I am very excited internally, but at the same time, I do not feel excited. This particular oddity inspired me, sort of, to write the following:

It an effort to be especially candid and honest, at risk of exposure (the sort of exposure which leaves one vulnerable), I admit to manicuring my online presence. I decided a few years ago that I would remove the negativity, as much as possible, from my life, and I knew I could do this with a fine-tooth comb while online. What I post to Facebook and Instagram are much more often than not the good moments, the fun times. What is absent are the defeats and the down times. I figure no one needs to be bothered by my woes, so why share them. Oddly, or perhaps a better word might be “naturally,” I have begun to see less negativity in my life offline. By refocusing on the good and the fun, I have focused less on the defeats and the downs; not just online, but offline as well. This is not to say that there aren’t as many defeats, but they each hit for less damage now. Now I am more prepared for them.

The past few days, it seems, there have been a lot of defeats, small ones, but many. It can feel overwhelming at times, a rush and a bombardment of negativity. How does one overcome such a wailing? I have fought and struggled to push through it all, and with the support of friends and family, I am reminded that despite it all, even in the worst of times, there is something positive. This, of course, coming from a place of privilege. There are some in the world whose “worst of times” may indeed not have a bit of positivity, and for that, I mean no offense when I say that there is. What I do mean to say, is that in my own personal experience of focusing on the good times, the fun times, the details, and the positive people in my life that I have become overall a much happier person.

Even now and recently when I catch myself in what I call “a funk,” I can expect to come out of it all right. That has taken some time for me to realize. Years ago, I fought my demons with other demons. Now I fight them with my own resolve.

Wow. Well that was quite the ramble. I make a promise to myself and any audience these posts may have to make sure the next entry is another one similar to those in the past filled with details and colors and adventure. I think writing all this may have been the final push I needed to work out the knots in my week. #TherapeuticWriting  

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