by Sara Marchessault
It started on a Sunday. We were driving home from Jacksonville (2.5 hours from Tallahassee for non-Floridian readers) when we noticed the car wasn’t slipping into gear, but once we got going, we were fine.
Plans were made to drop it off on Thursday morning. But the transmission had different ideas. Wednesday morning, after dropping off kid number one at preschool, the engine just revved and revved, and barely moved at all.
On go the hazards and the wheel is cranked into a nearby gas station. Thankfully a friendly person stopped to help me push the car the few final feet. (Pause for a moment to give a huge thank you to the person who did not share his name, but who stopped to make sure Jude and I were okay. Thank you universe for sending me a person like that when I needed him!)
And that was it. We were stuck at the gas station. A search of the glove compartment yielded the name and phone number of the mechanic we usually use and after a quick couple of phone calls, help was on the way.
After the dust started to settle, a moment of quiet thought made me realize that the papers in my hand were a journal of sorts. They represent the running record of the life of our family car.
Then another memory. A friend who keeps the most meticulous hand-written record of every oil change, windshield wiper refill, brake job, etc. He does this for both of the vehicles in their family. It’s a diary of the cars upkeep, a journal that tells a story of the care given to a car.
We keep these things because we need them. At some point every vehicle needs work. And if you keep it long enough, it will need work again. We save the receipts and the print-outs because they remind us of the steps we’ve taken to give care when care is needed. And eventually, at some point in the future, we have the record, the documentation, to review so that we can remember where we’ve been and make decisions for the future based on the details of the past.
Keeping a journal is a lot like that. Just like the car journal my friend keeps, your journal is a way to store information about you. Some of it might be surface level (what you had for dinner and the best bra in the world that you just found) and other content might be deeper (how you feel about your little sisters teenage pregnancy, the fight with your spouse, your fears about being a parent).
When the car breaks down, we can look back over what we’ve written and made a decision about whether or not it’s worth fixing again or if it’s time to move on.
There will be moments in your life when you will need to do the same. A job offer comes along that scares the pants off you, and your journal reminds you that it’s exactly what you wanted six months ago and you’ve been miserable with your current job. A relationship ends and you are heartbroken, only to have your journal remind you that you have been hoping that relationship would be more than it is.
We look back on the past with the eyes of “now.” Yesterday I would have said “no way in hell am I shopping for a new car.” Today I’m wondering if I want an SUV or a mini-van.
Forced change can bring us a change of perspective. It’s awesome to have our journals to help us record the process.
Now it’s your turn: what kinds of journals do you keep? Tell us below!