Sunday, May 15, 2011

on diary writing

I had my first diary when I was about seven. 

It was one day, when I was spending school holiday at my grandpa's. I woke up one morning and saw that there was a book lying on the table next to my bed. I remember I told my uncle a few days ago that I wanted a diary. Looking at the brown book, I told my self not to get excited too soon because it might be my uncle's book which happened to be laying around the house. Because  it didn't look like a little girl diary at all. The book was covered with brown leather with tiny yellow stripes on it. It had this dull, businesslike look (well but not this one on the picture, that was taken from Google, and I REALLY wish I have a diary like that)

But I was right. My uncle brought the book for me (I figured he might have brought it from his office). And since I've asked him for a diary, I then assumed that the brown book, though it didn't look like a diary, was to be filled with my notes on details of my everyday activities.

So it went.
I wrote on it everyday. And it continues up until now, more than twenty years later. 

Of course there were other books after the brown books. Lots of them. And I still kept them until a month ago, when we moved to a smaller house, where there isn't enough space for memories and things from the past. I had to disposed all of my diaries, except for the one that I'm still writing on (though very rarely).

I'm not good in letting go memories, be it the good ones or the bad ones. I like to keep things. And I know that that's not actually a good way to live your life. Disposing my old diaries was my first step in letting go of the past and I'm so proud of it.  But, aside from the fact that it has that negative effect on me, I realized that keeping a daily journal is actually good for your mental health.

My personal journal has always been my best friend in the worst of times. There are times when I feel like reading my old diaries (when they're still there), and I can say that aside from the nostalgic part, I also learn something from it. I find it a very valuable lesson, to actually pull yourself far out from yourself (which what happens when you read your writings after some time has passed), and see all the things you've done. I can see how I changed over time, how I react to things and how some things changed me. I get to know the real me, which, in most of the times, can only be seen when I pull myself out of myself. It's like having a dialogue with yourself. And it's always a good learning.

Only you and you alone can understand your most impossible reasoning and point of view. You might not really understand what it was when you were writing it down, but over time, when you read your notes a few months or years back, you'll have a better understanding of yourself. 

And that's what I'm trying to teach to my daughter. 
I want her to know that there will be times when she needs to be alone with herself, when the only person that she needs to talk to is herself, and that keeping record of the past is, to certain extent, a good way of learning.

Of course I can't tell her about the self reflection and learning parts. I only told her that it is actually a fun thing to do, telling all the things you do or feel without letting anyone know about it. That it is actually fun to have your own secret.

She picked a pink book to be her diary. She called it secret.

Everything she writes in there, is a secret. I'm not allowed to look. But of course, I couldn't help myself, and justified by my position as a parent (yeah rite), which means I need to watch my daughter closely, I looked inside. 

There's nothing special in there actually. She writes her daily activities, including the ones when she's waiting for me coming home from work. Sometimes she write her own one paragraph story, mostly about fairy and stars, and sometimes, ghosts. I can't always understand why she wrote some things, and I never discussed it with her, because I'm not supposed to look. But I'm glad that she's keeping her own journal.

Kriwil's pink diary and my red diary
The interesting is that, aside from routinely writing on her diary, she also sometimes insists to do it together with me. So we are to sit together side by side, me writing on my red book, and her writing on her pink book. We write diary, checking on how far each other's progress in writing, how many lines, how many pages and so forth. Sometimes we're exchanging comments on each other's handwriting. 

Well that, is actually not the kind of diary writing you imagine. No privacy, no contemplation in silence, and all the usual things one usually have (or seek) in writing a journal. Sometimes she even insists to write a letter for me in my diary. She has surely brought a diary writing to a whole new level. 

Now I have to find extra time to really sit and think and write on my journal, and turn it into something useful, because I can't do that when my daughter keeps checking on what I write and how many lines I've written :D

But I'm glad because she seems to enjoy the process. She sees it as a fun activity, and the fact that she has a secret, makes it even more exciting for her.

Having my daughter keeping a secret from me is actually not the kind of situation I want to have. But I think it's good for her to learn the concept, and even more than that, it's good for her to learn writing down her thoughts and keeping track of it. I really hope she'll keep on writing, and eventually get something useful out of it.

Bintaro, Monday afternoon

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