You see, over the years, I've moved several times and have been toting around taped up/booby trapped boxes full! I NEVER EVER read my old journals, so why was I continuing to carry this "psychic baggage"? It had all become so "heavy". With my 50th birthday quickly approaching, I felt the increasing need to let go. Time to shed the past, make room for the new.
I toyed with the idea of a birthday beach bonfire of diaries! Does seem a proper way to dispose of the old books. I discussed it with friends . . . I droned endlessly with my husband. I tossed. I turned.
Then, on Thursday, I received a timely piece of mail . . . a postcard advertising a "neighborhood shredding event" at a local real estate office. (A real estate office I'd once been employed by while deciding my future work. Ha! That's a whole other Oprah!)
Snap. The decision was made. A shredder would neatly dispose of my journals. Friday morning was spent ripping pages from past diaries. I tried not to look. If I stopped . . . if I read any of it, I'd surely abandon the whole project. And I couldn't. My decision was firm. I was releasing the past.
It took just over an hour to tear apart my books. Snippets of my life passed quickly before my eyes. The good, the bad and the ugly. I relived fun days spent with friends and family. I saw days spent yearning for love - the day I found it - the day I married him. I smiled through entries of successes - like when I quit smoking many years ago. I cried through sadnesses - like the day I lost a dear animal companion. I noticed various repetitive bitchings and whinings. On I went, ripping . . . tearing . . . while vowing not to repeat these same bitchings/whinings in future tomes.
Saturday morning, I drove the block to the shredding event. All my diary's pages now reduced to two boxes. I opened my trunk. I was instructed to unceremoniously pour it into a waiting bin. I could then watch as it was shredded and be sure that it was gone for good.
As the beige bin was tipped into the shredder, a friendly past real estate co-worker approached, arms open wide. She hugged me, excitedly asking, "So what are you doing now?". I told her of my new life as an artist and author. I told her as I watched my old life disappear into the giant metal jaws of a commercial shredder. And it was done. Gone.
I don't regret my decision, but I suppose it has taken me these couple of days to process. Perhaps I'm still processing, for I now want to change how I chronicle my life. Shall I continue my habit of keeping a written journal? If so, will I then repeat the same writing, collecting and disposing of journals? Does that really work for me any more?
Will I give myself over solely to art journaling - an art form that I don't feel a need to hide away or dispose of? But one that requires more time and commitment than keeping a regular written journal. And I do like to write daily.
Or shall I now combine my sketching with writing - this kind of "art journaling" is certainly quicker/cleaner to create. More writing could be easily incorporated into the sketchbooks. I find I'm leaning in this direction - we'll see what my fifth decade brings!