The journal is a place of discovery, of learning, of emotional relief and insight
On the second day of my Chemin from Le Puy en Velay I walked through an intoxicating sweet-scented pine forest and the bell calls of little birds to Le lac d’Oeuf. On a log overlooking the lake, more a wetland, I pulled out my journal and scribbled down my impressions and feelings. This journey I was determined to write as I went. So much happened in a Camino day that I forgot half of it by evening. In my fatigue memories, emotions and meetings blur into one or disappear with sleep.
I write with a pen and paper. Feelings flow directly from my heart down my arm and on to the page. Somehow getting things down on the page clarifies feelings and ideas. As the water in a disturbed pond slowly clears when the murk settles down to the bottom so I can see into my mind and heart with greater clarity.
On the journal page I can be completely myself. Stephanie Dowrick writes that “the journal is a place of discovery, of learning, of emotional relief and insight”. I know that in it I have no-one to please, no-one to compete with. I can be open and vulnerable. In doing so I cast off the personas I present to the world and find the self and the truth – for that day.
Journal writing helps me see what is familiar with new eyes. My powers of observation deepen. I see subtleties and changes more sharply and appreciate the apparently ordinary more fully.
My first Camino began in my journal. With an inkling of desire I wrote to discover if I was brave enough and strong enough to dare to do it. All the pros and cons poured onto the page. One day I would be sure I could walk 900km. The next I would hesitate and resile from the decision. Eventually I wrote myself into booking the air tickets and there was no way back.