My last post here, was about my inner world, a space I have taken time to explore and develop. Today, I’d like to discuss another personal space that I have explored and developed, but one that is concrete and takes up time and energy in the real physical realm. Not a lot of either one of them, but suddenly far more important than I had already thought. That is my journal.
Yesterday, my sister and I went over to start packing up my Mother’s belongings for transfer to her new apartment which is across the parking lot from my own and in the same complex. We emptied the two hutches of all their glass treasures and knick-knacks. Some of these things have been around almost as long as I have and I have distinct memories about many of them.
Handling them, each one at a time, of course set off an entire complex and trail of thoughts. Some to do with the past, others to do with friends who have traveled a similar path while I watched and supported them from the sidelines. Even one about a very recent conversation concerning the dance between offspring and elderly parents as they make adjustments and reverse roles on many levels.
And of course, with my mother now ninety years old, there were thoughts concerning that other dance we do throughout our entire lives. That one about the reality of death and how much we avoid the topic and dance in and around and through it in so many ways.
Ernest Becker wrote a classic on the subject, The Denial of Death. I have read it through twice and have often gone back and skimmed through its pages looking for specific topics. The first time I read it was in a college philosophy course, a year after my father’s passing. I found it a treasure of explanation for the myriad of feelings and moods I had experienced and struggled through during and after that time period. It was also an anchor in creating the acceptance I was seeking.
And I know that it is time to go back and read it through again. Making space for the reality that is occurring might seem like courting some sort of disaster to many people. But the disaster would be in not creating that space, and then having to deal with it as though it were a sudden intrusion, come out of nowhere to destroy or disarrange my existence. This is happening and happening now, not somewhere off in a foggy ill-defined future. The best thing I can do for me, in these circumstances, is to prepare myself, emotionally and mentally for that reality.
I will do that by reading Ernest Becker’s book and making notes in my journal. Which, in a way, is simply fair warning that some of those notes may end up here, so be prepared. I just got up and went and retrieved the book from my library. It has been some time since I opened it and was surprised to find some passages underlined in black ink.
Not so much surprised at the underlining, but at the content I had underlined. It is about the connection between our fear of death and the development of heroism and the role it plays in that reality. If you have read much of this blog, you will be aware that the Hero Archetype is one of special interest to my person. That was the reason for my surprise. And perhaps the best hook I could have discovered for actually rereading the book at this time. Have I mentioned that I do so love synchronicity.
Back to the packing. All those thoughts and feelings from yesterday were put into my journal this morning. And I found myself intensely grateful that I have already made space and a habit out of that activity. I will be needing it in the days, weeks, and months ahead. It is a dear friend I can take along with me as I travel through all of these new pathways.
Yes, I do have friends and family members to help and support me through this time. But, I am also aware of how difficult it is for some individuals to discuss this subject matter, and I want that extra friend, that one that is always available, even in the dead of night, and will listen without critiquing what it is I am feeling and thinking.
I want and need that space known to me alone, where I feel safe, secure, and totally free to express whatever I need to express, be it grief, total exasperation or frustration, or to store those wonderful bits of memory that can be so satisfying long after the experience that generated them. With my journal as my daily companion, I have all of that and can use it with the ease of long practice. Although I have always appreciated my journal, sometimes long after the fact, I am suddenly profoundly grateful for it in new and deeper ways than ever before.
Perhaps you should be as well. After all, without it, much of those messy emotions and thoughts would probably end up on these pages instead.