It is said and widely believed that journaling can serve as a therapeutic tool. It was Socrates who claimed that ” The unexamined life is not worth living” and perhaps on some subconscious level his words resonated with me since very early in my childhood. In fact, the moment I learnt how to write, keeping a diary became a unicorn I have been chasing just until now.
A notebook, diary or a journal – obviously the notion of writing down one’s thoughts, emotions or simply the details of everyday life is not a novelty. The oldest ‘journals’ ever found were written 4500 years ago on papyrus and are called ‘The Diary of Merer’. However, my favourite ones are not as old, although I personally discovered them almost two \
decades ago. They come from the 2nd century AD and are Marcus Aurelius’s ‘Meditations’. These records of Stoic philosophy have so much in common with our contemporary life that although they are ancient no one can call them out-of-date.
Later, there came the period of my fascination with the British Royal Family, which I must confess has not entirely faded yet, and the diaries of Queen Victoria. It is almost unbelievable that her journals, made public in 2012, run to 43,000 pages! She made her first entry when she was only 13 and the last one merely 10 days before her death in 1901. There is a lot to read about. To my delight, Queen Elizabeth II apparently writes too (thank you Netflix!) but it would be very impolite to say that I cannot wait for her to finish. My last but not least favourite ones are the journals of Elizabeth Gilbert, whose books I simply devour. With only a few glimpses of her Instagram account, where she shares some of her entries, I have completely fallen in love with the colourful, imaginative notebooks full of poetry and sketches.
Throughout the years I have made plenty of attempts to keep my own journal. All failed. Perhaps my life, when compared with those of the queens and emperors, seemed ‘a little’ pale and lacking grandiosity. Was there anything really worth writing about? It did not feel so…until very recently. I cannot say that the current ‘lockdown situation’ made me jot down all the exciting things I fill my day with, because there are none, but it certainly forced me to focus on being thankful more than ever. Having read about gratitude journals and how they improve one’s mood, I decided to start one. Writing down three things a day that I am grateful for does not seem too demanding. At first, it helped for five minutes. After four days it helped for an hour. Now, after only a couple of weeks I am living in the state of constant gratitude, as if some magic happened and suddenly I started to notice things I usually took for granted.
Call it the miracle of journaling or the unprecedented COVID-19 time, I do not really care. The fact is – it works! So, if you have ever dreamt of keeping a journal, get down to writing. Taking into consideration that the holy month of Ramadhan has only just started, the time for all kinds of spiritual endeavours seems to be ideal. Who knows, perhaps I might catch my unicorn at last. Will you?