The notes gave physical substance to her words, leaving Starkey feeling vulnerable because she thought of the notes as evidence.
I believe that the greatest fear of anyone who even considers keeping a journal is that someone might some day read it and find them lacking. Might misinterpret what they read and come to rather strange or erroneous conclusions. Might question the sanity or balance of the individual who wrote the words, kept the notes from his/her life in just such a manner. Or, simply not like the author of those words and notes.
I read a great deal. Mostly I read suspense and mystery novels because I like the particular tension that develops as clues and connections are gathered, some discarded, others pointing in unknown directions and often creating more questions than answers. To me, that seems a lot like life itself.
We are most often, a mystery even to ourselves. Moving through our lives, gathering information and knowledge, creating goals we hope will lead us to what we really want our lives to be and often questioning our own actions and thoughts and trying to figure out what it all means.
In the novel, mentioned above, the author seems to set out to create a character it is hard to like. Starkey, that main character, is obviously dealing with alcoholism, and is stuck in a past experience that is driving her to explosion or implosion, using booze and medication to just get through the moments of her existence. Angry at what life has dealt her, she lashes out at anyone who gets close enough to get a glimpse of her reality. A reality that she denies and works hard to cover up.
The above quote is on page ten of the story. It caught my attention and kept it. I often think of my journal pages as the notes I am keeping on my own existence. Notes pertaining to where I have been, what I might think or feel about any particular subject, clues as to where I might be going. But, the word evidence sort of stopped me in my tracks.
Evidence sometimes implies some sort of guilt. That is what mystery novels are all about: collecting evidence of someone’s guilt or innocence. And the thought that I might be collecting evidence about my own person was rather striking, even though very true. But, evidence of what?
I already know that I am guilty of being an imperfect human being, one who makes mistakes. But, I am also an individual who occasionally does do it right and gets all the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed. I have the ability to get angry and even explosive and have even imploded at some points in time. I also know that I can be loving and giving, silly and redundant, soft and fragile, and hard as glass that shatters in a million pieces. That all just says the same thing: I’m human.
What’s more important, my journal pages, those notes I’m taking as I move through my days, prove that I am actually working on and through all those dichotomies and question marks. Using my energies and resources to try to resolve the problems and issues inherent in being human. So is the Starkey character. The notes mentioned in the quote are ones made by her psychiatrist.
Although the vulnerability she feels is due to the knowledge that someone has gotten close enough to know or remark on her reality, she is there, continuing to work at finding some answers. Big point in her favor. I didn’t much like her character, but at that point she did become human and I could definitely identify with her. And even more important, I wanted to stick around and find out more of her story. Kudos to the author for that one.
Although I have been keeping a journal for more years than not, I still have to occasionally deal with the thought of what might happen should someone stumble upon my notes and find something, someone they really dislike. And I don’t necessarily mean me, although that might be a secondary response to what I have written. At those times, I have to go back and remind myself of several things.
One, these notes are for me, by me, and about me. They are my private exploration of my own existence, person, and character. And by the way, I don’t always like the main character that appears on those pages.
Two, because they are private, they aren’t meant to be read by anyone else. Anyone who would do so is guilty of invading my privacy, without my permission. What’s more, any response they might experience because of their choice, is also their responsibility, not mine. They are eavesdropping, nothing more.
And lastly, I will more than likely not be around should such a thing take place. I would probably be dead and all concerns about the consequences of such a choice would be completely beyond me and totally out of my hands. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t like to be a wee small mouse, hidden in a corner of the room, should it occur, lol.
My journal, its pages and notes, are a freedom I grant to myself. Fear of what others might think is an interference with, and of that freedom. But, because I am its only intended audience, what happens if I find evidence that leads to my not particularly liking the main character? That might be the second greatest fear of those who choose to do this thing.
I guess I could come back and read this entry of my blog. But, better yet, I could remember that any freedom also entails a certain responsibility. If I don’t like the main character I find in these notes, then as the author, it is my responsibility to change her, recreating someone I can see as a human being, one who is actively seeking to know herself as well as giving herself a hand up in that process. Then she becomes someone I can like, encourage, and support by continuing in the process. Taking notes and finding evidence that will lead to a better, perhaps more favorable conclusion.