Keeping a Journal

As part of a desperate attempt to improve my Chinese, I’ve been reading Lung Ying-Tai’s new book, 大江大海1949. She tells the story of her parents during the Chinese Civil War, how they fled to Taiwan, and subsequently how they built their post-war lives. Throughout the book, Lung talks about using her father’s journal in tracing his steps all over China. Her father’s death a few years ago and her mother’s dementia didn’t leave Lung many options but using her father’s journal.
So I ask myself, what I do write in my journal? Do I write anything worth leaving to my children to read? Journal-keeping as been a habit since middle school. In the ten year span from then until now, I’ve filled about five notebooks. Each notebook has a different style, styles that easily reflect my interests at the point in my life. My first journal was on black paper, written in cursive with glitter gel pens. Those were all the rage back then. But as time has gone by, I find the glittery gets harder to decipher with the passing years so I am currently in the process of copying my first journal onto a new one. In my freshman year of college, my journal was in a very college-ruled spiral bound notebook. I made the stupid mistake of leaving it on a bus when I traveled to the Netherlands. Needless to say, I never saw that journal again. The loss devastated me and I tried my best to recount all the events in a new diary, but writing about events so long after they took place never seems to have much significance.

I make a point to skim through my past journals from time to time. Sometimes, I chuckle because I find myself worrying about the most trivial things. Sometimes I’m proud of how much I’ve grown. But I also notice a pattern. Oftentimes, I ramble on and on about my current crush. Or I superficial list the things I’ve done, places I’ve been, people I’ve met. I don’t write about how I felt. Rarely, do I write about my fears, worries, or insecurities. To be honest, sometimes I see a bratty, spoiled, privileged girl on the pages of my journal. I expect more from myself than just someone who cares about what’s on the surface. I want to write, discuss, examine, and reflect on things that I won’t be ashamed of having my children read. I want to be more than this.

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