I started something new in my journal this morning. At the end of the page, I wrote out a question that I will respond to on tomorrow’s page. I used to have a friend who did that everyday, in an attempt to keep herself doing her morning pages. I thought it was a really good idea and have considered doing the same for several years. Yet, never did so until now.
I truly believe that my morning pages are the most important task of my day. Getting through them is not always easy, or quickly accomplished. Some days, I am shocked by the end of the page and have even been known to continue on to a second or third one. Those days are few.
Mostly, I start out by writing about some detail of the day before and end up exploring something in those details: a concept, issue, or question that arises as I am writing. The questions are always there. They are the consequence of an active mind. Responding to them is simply a quest to continue activating that mind. But, until now, I have not actually written out any specific question. Have even hesitated to do so.
Writing out the questions gives them a voice. It makes them solid and concrete. What if I can’t, or don’t want to find an answer? When I finally allowed that particular question to come to the surface, I realized why I hadn’t employed what I have always thought was an excellent practice. One that is particularly difficult and not an easy choice by any means.
Too often, questions feel like some sort of test. And I do remember, quite clearly, what test anxiety feels like. To belay that reality, I studied for hours and quizzed myself before hand, yet was always surprised when I did well on my exams. But, this is not an exam, its my journal: a dialogue with my own person. And it stands to reason that part of that conversation should be in question format.
I also think that a part of my hesitation had to do with whose voice I was actually activating by writing the question. Of course it is mine, but there are past voices I would truly desire to avoid, if possible, especially that of the finger pointing fault finder. I know she is there inside of me, ready to place blame instead of holding her tongue til the truth of any given situation can be found. Judgment and blame are fairly easy excuses when the why of the thing is difficult to sort from all those other pieces of information.
Yet, it is truth that I am seeking. And my journal pages are a concrete aspect of that continuing search. Which means those difficult why questions must be confronted, explored, examined, and studied. The truth I find will always be subject to my own senses and interpretation. And if I ask enough of those questions, I may even curtail some of that too quick finger pointing while subduing that all too quick blaming and judging it is so easy to fall prey to.
In a recent email, someone said that she is learning, in her art, how to follow herself rather than pull herself along. I loved that insight. For years, I have been following the words to whatever destination they arrive at. In my art, I follow the lines and patterns in the same fashion. The image of dragging my own person from point A to point B looked an awful lot like an invitation to depression or worse.
So, how do I follow me in my journal? By finally writing out the questions, then seeking answers that carry some truth within them. Giving those questions the voice they deserve, making them as solid and concrete as possible. Far more direct and straight forward, I should think. And I don’t really have a problem with writing “I don’t know,” inside of those pages. What’s more, I can also see me writing, “Here are few questions you might want to consider, first?”
I think I have found the pattern. The lines that lead more directly to where I actually want to be. Giving voice to those questions, also gives me words to follow to some unknown, but findable destination. Much better than facing off with the fog of depression that occasionally settles into this valley I call my life.
Here is the image that is dancing through my head, at this moment. All of the questions are held in a brown paper bag. Shake it up, then put your hand inside the bag. Pull one out, write it down, and begin. What’s on your slate? Questions looking for answers? Truth? Or answers just waiting for the right questions? Test anxiety? Blame and judgment? Following self, or pulling it along behind you?
I am known for asking the hard questions. Just ask me.