The Trail of Breadcrumbs
Terry Marotta


A person might wonder: Why keep a journal in the first place?

Let’s begin with the fact that behind every journal is the daily life: the needle-sleeted rush hours no less than the coral-tinted dawns; the idle moments waiting for the light to change no less than the soul-baring late-night conversations.

Life itself is all inclusion, every crazy thing that happens. Whether it strikes us as the stuff of tragedy, comedy, or farce, there it all is, tangled together with every anticlimax and messy detail. Think of it as a screenplay by a brilliant young author: It shows great promise, but it could maybe use a rewrite.

Your journal is your rewrite.

There’s Life as it unfolds, in other words, and then there is what we make of Life.

We know that whenever we recount an experience we leave things out. We choose; we discern; and what we choose is based on life but it’s life passed through the prism of our own one-of-a-kind consciousness. It’s experience transformed; the rough hemp of what merely befalls us woven into the gold cloth of meaning.

I keep a journal because it helps me make meaning. It is not very pretty to look at it. I have parts of it here, parts of it there. My children and grandchildren will find boxes and boxes of earnest scribbles to go through when I am gone, poor lambs, but the tidiness of the thing is not the point. The point is that every few days or weeks I found a few minutes to sit down in the busy middle of things – maybe at the Food Court at the Mall or maybe in my car while pausing to watch the sun set – and I wrote down what was foremost in my mind. And if I felt grumpy when I began, the grumpiness lifted. If I felt wronged, the sense of injury disappeared. If I felt alone, the loneliness vanished.

When we write down how we feel we suddenly see our life more clearly. Better yet, we then feel grateful for it, every messy scrap and quirky hiccup. We feel lucky we were put here. And everything we do or say for the rest of the day is informed by this feeling of appreciation.

And then what? Well, we get nicer. We grow more willing to speak our truth, either to a person in the supermarket checkout line or the ones living right under our roof who might really appreciate the chance to understand us at last. We help make community. We send up some lovely messages to the Creator; and we grow suddenly and unaccountably cheerful.

All of these gifts settle about us once we begin to keep a record of what we saw and thought in our time here. And if you doubt me, read a little more here. Then pick up your own pen and see if it is not so.

Ravenscroft Press
©Copyright 2012 Terry Marotta, All Rights Reserved.