I used to journal all the time.
This was before blogs and the option to share every waking thought with the rest of the planet, and I had notebook after notebook filled with thoughts on school and work and of course, food and exercise.
Looking back now I remember writing some of the entries and never being completely honest out of fear that someone would find them and read them, something that would have completely devastated me. But yet I wrote—day after day—about things going on in my life. Whether or not it was helpful in the end is up for debate, but at the time I felt like it helped.
I’ve stopped journaling for the most part.
If I spend time writing, I figure something has to come of it so all of that time wasn’t wasted. After all, what good is writing if nobody reads it but me? How will people know I’m struggling with something or that I have opinions on ALL OF THE THINGS?
So instead of writing things out for myself when I notice some sort of emotion, I often dismiss it and push it so far on the backburner that it falls behind the metaphorical stove. I might write a post, but I edit myself, aware that there’s a fine line between introspection and navel gazing—a line that I’m always worried I’m crossing.
It’s times like these that I forgot the value of writing just to write, and that sometimes the end result is insignificant in comparison to the process. It’s not about approval or attention, but rather getting the words out of my head and onto a page at some point—if only just for me.
In other words, attachment to the process, not attachment to results.
This applies to so many things in my life. However, seeing as I am one of those moody writers who struggles with how much to share and fears the last thing I wrote will be the last thing that I EVER write, it makes a good comparison.
But big picture, it means taking a walk without worrying about the distance or sitting outside without feeling the need to be “doing.” It means not worrying about wasting the time that I spend, if the time that I spend brings me some sort of insight or peace.
Easier said than done, I know.
It’s easy to get caught up in the societal expectation that you not only have to “do” and produce results, but also tell everyone else that you’re “doing” and producing results in order to prove that you’re doing “enough,” or else you’re just wasting your time.
At least that’s what creeps into my head at times when I start to write something I know I won’t post or I sit on the deck with a book. Shouldn’t I be doing something that will yield a tangible result? What’s the point if nobody knows?
The point is that not everything needs a real point, or at least not the one you expect. Journaling, painting, taking a walk, etc. “just because” can help to collect up your thoughts. No attachment to results, no expectations for reward—that’s the point.
This quote from Ajahn Chah was on my daily calendar this week:
“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.”
So today I will choose to let go—just a little, just for me—and consider it all time well spent.
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