Keeping a Diary

Keeping a Diary June 16, 2012

I hate writing in a diary. This probably surprises you considering the copious amounts of blather produced on this blog. There are plenty of notebooks full of scribbles, and even a couple of magical/spiritual diaries that I started and never kept up. For a long time both the discipline of maintaining a diary, and focusing so much on myself, seemed impossible. Blogging has, in a strange way, resolved these issues. For over a year I updated this blog at least once a day, and I’ve spent more time talking about other things, only sometimes writing about myself. In short, I’ve acquired the discipline, and also the desire to focus on my own private impressions without broadcasting them to the world.

So I’m rather absurdly proud, even after over a decade of practice and study, that I’ve managed to keep a diary for two weeks straight. The lameness of this small accomplishment is not affecting the great pride I take in it.

My hand cramps up just looking at Tolstoy's diary.

I know diaries are important. I know it’s important to be able to look back and see how you have grown and evolved, at the insights gleaned, at the patterns discovered, at how brilliant you can be, and at how incredibly foolish and vain you can be. I know all of this. Knowing a diary is important has no impact on how much I truly loathe keeping one.

Yet I’m giving it a good earnest try, and hopefully have gained enough maturity, discipline and wisdom by now to not give up on the project. It’s important for me to keep a record of my thought process and practice at this point in my life. Not only am I undergoing a somewhat painful, annoying and joyful internal spiritual evolution, but that evolution is also causing me to make some significant, palpable changes in my practice.

Making a change in your life, even a positive one can be mildly traumatic. You are building something new and destroying something old. Aidan Kelly pointed out to me that in speaking of my crisis of faith I was listing the stages of grief. After a period of time practicing and internalizing certain views, it can be both a relief and a source of great sorrow to have that comfortable and familiar way of being pulled from you. It leaves you with a terrible sucking noise, like the ocean pulling away from the shore as the tide goes out.

In the midst of this change you need a safe place to vent, to grieve, and to work out your own thoughts and feelings. A private place only inhabited by you. That is where a diary is supremely useful. It is a silent witness to your struggle. It gives you no platitudes. It makes no attempt to correct or comfort you. It merely watches and accepts your offerings in silence. It holds up a mirror not only to who you are today, but who you were last week, and who you were three years ago.

So as changes unfold in my spiritual life, embarking on new adventures in meditation, prayer and ritual, it’s pretty important that I buckle down to keeping a diary daily. My Saturn’s return officially took place last October/November (the time of my initiation) leaving a wide swath of debris in it’s wake. When you’re busy picking up the pieces of your life, it’s important to keep a record of what you find. There may be bits of your life that can be pieced back together if you keep a careful inventory of what is whole, what is salvageable, and what is utterly destroyed.

Maybe there needs to be a program for people like me who loathe keeping a diary. Something with chips like AA. Maybe I will tape a pentacle to my closet door for every month of daily diary entries. Perhaps trade 12 pentacles for an ankh, and then see how many ankhs I can earn. Just might work…

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