On my sixth birthday, I received my first journal.
It was the last present I opened at my party, given to me by a little boy who lived down the street. It was squishy and said “DIARY” on it in colorful letters. The pages inside were pink, yellow, and green. Best of all, it had a little lock on it. I still have that journal, and I still remember the way it smelled. My first entry was, “Dear Diary, What a wonderful day I had today!” and that was how I described my sixth birthday party.
I don’t remember any of the other gifts I received that day, but I still remember the moment I opened that one. It was one of those small moments that changed my life. I’ve kept a journal ever since and now have several whole shipping boxes full of them–chronicles of crushes and being bullied, of school plays and the devastation of getting passed over for a singing solo at an assembly. Later, college and sex, anger at the Bush administration, New York City and the year my handwriting changed because I was teetering on some kind of edge. Even later, running a Coven, getting married, and moving back to Oregon. I’ve sometimes gone for months without journaling. In fact, I’m in a bit of a dry spat right now, finding myself blogging more than journaling (and being kind of slack about that, too.). But it will come back.
There is a Magick in journaling.
Journals don’t need to be profound. A friend once told me, “Just write about what you did that day. We lead interesting lives.” At the time, I really was living a very interesting life. It’s blessedly less interesting now, but even so, a journal about a boring life can be captivating. An acquaintance has been reading the journals of her deceased husband. She mentioned he’d write about when he enjoyed a dinner she cooked and I very much wanted to know more. What did she make? What dinners did he particularly like? What did he do with his Saturdays?
For me, the real Magick of journaling is the retrospective wisdom. I see the block letters of me, the outraged adolescent, furious at some classmate. Young Coco, I say to my old self. They’ll be out of your life in two months when you change schools, Or the college-aged me ranting about the Iraq war and Dubya. Oh, you sweet summer child. What do you know about criminal presidents? In looking at those moment, I can better bust through my current frustrations. Hey, remember when you were sooooo mad because what’s-her-name made fun of your Tarot deck? Yeah. That’s not a big deal, now. So maybe this crazy thing isn’t a big deal now, either.
And an even deeper Magick happened came along…
On the day my nephew was born, I promised myself I would give him a journal when he was old enough to write. This week, I made good on my promise. Although a little eclipsed by the massive lego sets he also received at his birthday party, he took it in and understood it, as excited by the journal’s little lock as I had been with mine. “Now my friends can’t see what I write!”
He then set it aside to play with the Legos, but I didn’t mind. The Legos might have won Most Popular Gift at the party…but the journal can win in the long run. Maybe he’ll get into journaling. Maybe he won’t. But he’s got the tool now to do with it what he will.
I kept my word to myself and passed the Magick on.
My sister texted after the party to say that before he went to bed, he insisted on writing in his journal. But he didn’t want to show her because it was private.