I’ve only kept a couple of journals in my lifetime. I also have several blogs, one that I commenced in 2005 to share experiences of my new life in the United Arab Emirates where I had accepted a three-year work contract. It seemed a simpler solution to me than emailing experiences about my travels to the many friends and family members who might have been interested.
The last journal I wrote by hand was between 1991 and 1998 and covered the death of my mother in 1995. I never wrote daily, but a couple of times per week I’d take the time to write a page or two in an A5 ruled booklet.
Between 1992 and her death in May 1995, my mother lived in a granny flat near our house, so there was plenty to write about regarding our mutual experiences living together with my wife and I caring for her and our teenage son and daughter entertaining her.
Recently, while packing up after a house sale, I re-read the diary, and it brought back many of the emotions and memories of the period. I would have forgotten about most of them without the journal. Certainly, I would have forgotten dates when events occurred.
Later, while visiting Albany and the memorial to the Australian Light Horse Brigade, I read many of the letters our young men had sent home, most before they had died in battle. Their letters and occasional journal entries helped me “feel” their experience and to know them briefly as fellow human beings. It was a heart-warming experience.
Now it seems, science has proven that writing in a journal can help improve your emotional and even physical wellbeing. Significantly, the physical writing activity, as opposed to the typing activity, is more beneficial. (Read about research here)
As a 60-words-per-minute touch typist, I hardly ever use a pen or pencil these days but am beginning to think I perhaps should return to the world of handwriting.
One thing I like about journalling is that your journal can “talk” to your children, grandchildren and family members throughout the future. Future generations of your family line can get to know you and your life rather than simply knowing you as a name, and dates of birth and death on some ancestry chart in 2097.
The modern approach to journaling, of course, is through blogs or vlogs (video records). The good part about blogs and vlogs is that you can set them up online very easily and absolutely free. (See blogger.com or wordpress.com or search for many others)
If you have family extending from one continent to another, or even all over Australia, all you need do is send a link in an email, and they can read what you have to say. If you want to keep it private, you can do that too.