I made another trip to Dictionary.com this morning, before coming here. I had been talking to a friend in Arizona, and she was telling me about a picture she had found and carried around with her because she so liked the face in the image and what it represented to her. Eventually, she got the image laminated and used it for a bookmark. Then enlarged it, bought a frame for it, and has it hanging on the wall in her office, where she comes into contact with it on a daily basis. She now has a talisman.
That’s what prompted my sidetrip to Dictionary.com. This is what I found. A talisman is:
1. a stone or ring, or other object, engraved with figures or characters supposed to possess occult powers and worn as an amulet or charm.
2. any amulet or charm.
3. anything whose presence exercises a remarkable or powerful influence on human feelings or actions.
What does any, or all of that, have to do with journal writing? Reread number three, please. It’s obvious that I believe a journal is a talisman, possibly one of the most important ones we can create. As we do so, we may very well go through the same process that my friend in Arizona did. She found the image and was immediately drawn to it. So much so, that she found a way to possess it and carry it around with her.
We may think of jotting down our thoughts, on occasion, then pick up a pen to do so and feel utterly ridiculous at the very action. Put down the pen and walk away. But the thought remains, and one day we actually do it and discover it resulted in some good feelings toward our own person. Or we may hear someone, like myself, speaking about doing it, liking what we hear and trying it out for ourselves. It makes no difference what draws us, except on a personal level, which may be shared by thousands of others, or none. We are drawn. The idea of it has power and influences our actions.
The next step my friend took, was to carry it around with her. You may find that you enjoy this jotting things down so much, that you purchase a notebook that you can keep with you for that purpose. You might feel a bit curious about all of this, so you start writing down how you feel about the experience. My friend started speaking to the image she was carrying around. Either action, which could be seen as somewhat the same thing, gives or invests the object (or notebook) with more influence and power. We are even more drawn, and investing time, energy, and expression into the object and discovering that it has an even deeper meaning than we first gave it.
My Arizonian friend of almost forty years, then named the figure in the image and honored it by finding a way to give it a prominent place in her everyday life. We might do the same and with good examples. The first one that leaps to mind is the fictitious character, Kitty, to whom Anne Frank addressed her diary entries. She even wrote of her reasoning for doing so:
Anne had expressed the desire in the re-written introduction of her diary for one person that she could call her truest friend, that is, a person to whom she could confide her deepest thoughts and feelings. She observed that she had many “friends”, and equally many admirers, but (by her own definition) no true, dear friend with whom she could share her innermost thoughts. (Wikipedia)
When I first set out to keep a written daily account of my thoughts, feelings, and doings, I seriously gave some thought to doing what Anne Frank had done, giving a name to my morning pages. I didn’t do so because, although my desire was to write and therefore maybe become a writer, I already knew the power of naming a thing and backed away from so deliberately acknowledging what this was really all about. In other words, I was a very scared beginner. However, inadvertently, my journal did acquire a name. It became My Morning Pages. And I created a special place for it by doing it daily and not allowing anyone to interfere with that process. Even turning away phone calls from that dear friend in Arizona, to our mutual surprise and shock.
Carving out a particular place and time could also be simply refusing to go anywhere without that new companion, your notebook. Either one, makes our journal, or whatever we choose to call it, a talisman. We are acknowledging it’s primary importance to us, and its prominent position within our existence. Its power and influence over our thoughts and feelings. We do that because it actually holds our thoughts and feelings. Words we choose to express ourselves, create new and different definitions for our own small piece of world and our place in that world, maybe even renaming ourselves in the process.
Does this have anything to do with those first two parts of the definition for the word talisman? Yes, it does, but that is for some other day, when I might speak to you about what one (if one chooses) might put into a medicine bag, which is just a container in which one keeps ones most precious talismans.