Sunday, October 30, 2011
It’s Halloween, the perfect time to chase some old ghosts out of my life.
I finally moved all of my stuff out of the family home and now the house where I was raised is scary empty. You can actually hear an echo when you speak or walk around on the wooden floors.
The weather was hideous on Saturday, which seemed strangely appropriate seeing as how we had a monsoon a few months back when I moved to my new place. Apparently the weather gods don't like to see me changing addresses.
Now I’m sitting in my home office surround by more boxes than a FedEx driver and I keep telling myself that I’m going to get this stuff in order and the place will look fabulous when I’m done.
I think if I say it enough times I might even start believing it.
One package that did not make the trip was a box filled with my old diaries. I had been putting off deciding what to do with them for the last few weeks, but now that the clock is winding down to the closing deadline, I had to do something about this stack of marble notebooks.
I’ve been keeping journals fairly regularly since I moved to Pennsylvania 1988. I remember my first night in the Poconos, sitting in my room at the Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, writing in a journal about what a terrible mistake I had made.
I kept it up when I moved to Connecticut five years later, dubbing my first journal “The Waterbury Tales” after my newest hometown and I’m still doing it today.
Each journal starts out the same. My handwriting is neat, my thoughts are organized, and, since many of them begin on January 1, I put down my resolutions as well.
But the nice penmanship and good attitude usually last just a few weeks before the entries degenerate into unreadable scrawl that even I can’t stand to look at and my mental state takes on a similar appearance.
So do I want to keep these things?
Yes, they could provide insight to my past lives, something I could use to mold myself in a better person. On the other hand, it’s just more stuff that’ll take up space in my new apartment.
I settled the issue last week when I started leafing through some of the journals. Good jumping Jesus, was I really that miserable for all that time?
Did I have any fun in my life? Convicts serving life sentences are happier than I am, if my journals are to be taken seriously. My existence could not have been that bad, but clearly my vision of the world was seriously twisted.
I do think keeping a diary or journal is a good idea, but they have to be more than annals of angst and chronicles of complaints. They should be workbooks for your life.
Often you can get identify what’s really troubling you by putting your darkest thoughts down on paper. That’s one way of chasing out the demons—just put your finger down your mind’s throat and stand back.
But then you have to come up with a plan, figure out what you’re going to do next instead of just reporting your crappy circumstances. Okay, we get it. Life sucks and everybody else on the face of the earth is a mouth-breathing imbecile. Now what?
I certainly don’t want to bring these toxic tomes into my new life. I was thinking I could mail them to any of my old Catholic school nuns who might still be above ground.
One look at my atrocious handwriting should be enough to send those miserable old hags sailing through the pearly gates like Evel Knievil jumping over a line of Greyhounds. But I don't know...that sounds a little hostile.
My sister said she might have a journal burning party to get rid of her old diaries. I decided to dump my memoirs into a bucket of water and watch them turn into a pulpy mess. That'll show 'em who's boss.
Now I have a new notebook and I don’t allow myself to write down a negative thought unless I find something positive to balance things out. Maybe a sense of balance is the best thing you can get out of a journal. It’ll drive the ghosts clear out of town.