I bought my first journal a little over four years ago, as I was packing for a trip overseas. Wanting to document the journey, I purchased a small, cream colored and tightly bound book. As each necessity was packed in my bag in turn, I took the time to inspect the new little journal. Carefully turning over one page after the next and wondering what would soon fill its thin blue lines, the intimidation of documenting hit me. A pressure to fill its pages with the extraordinary; to archive tales worthy of the beautiful paper I had just purchased; to scribble the first few words of a one day best-selling memoir swept over me. This was an intimidation that had always been present when the concept of journaling was brought up. What if I couldn’t write something worth reading, should someone stumble upon the book? What if my thoughts or musings were too boring to be written down? How exactly did others enjoy the practice so much, or even find it soothing?
As day six of my journey came and went; day seven; day seventeen, I still hadn’t cracked open the journal. It continued to lay, bound tightly inside my bag, the cap remaining firmly screwed on the pen packed with it. The uneasiness of what to write kept me avoiding the lovely bound almanac like one would avoid chores or an awkward encounter with an ex.
It was in a small seaside cafe that it finally hit me. Sitting across from a group of friends as they ate, and hearing them laugh in a language I couldn’t understand — this was ordinary for them. The experience I had so looked forward to journaling about as being ‘extraordinary’, was simply a moment in their every day lives. They weren’t in the cafe looking to write a phenomenal haiku or to notate a pulitzer prize winning anecdote. They were here to to have supper. Just an ordinary meal on an ordinary day.
Immediately the journal was open. No longer intimidated by the notion of the exceptional, everything was written down. The color of the walls, the sound of plates on tables, the texture of the man’s hat across the room. There was no more need to script the extraordinary, as the ordinary had come alive. This was just another day, and there was a freeing, liberating beauty in that.
There is wonder in the ordinary; in the touch of a hand, in the taste of a tomato or a pear, in the penning of the simplest of thoughts in a beautiful cream colored journal. When external factors cause chaos around us, the simplicity of writing down how we feel, scribbling a hopeful plan, or scrawling a paragraph on the day’s weather can offer a welcome grounding for our spirit.
I challenge you to write down your ordinary. Purchase a clean new journal you find beautiful, and write down every ordinary thing you can think of. Write down the way the room around you looks. Notate how the paper feels under hand. Don’t neglect to address the meal you began your day with. They don’t have to be long entries — mine, at least, rarely are — but the practice of penning the ordinaries in your day will leave you with a novel of an extraordinary life.
I’d love to hear how your journaling is going. Connect with me on instagram, @lydiacockrell_