(Los Angeles Times)
Orange County School of the Arts

Opinion: Journals are little personal time capsules

The other day I found a few journals I used to write in last year when I was a freshman, a time that feels so far back yet simultaneously quite recent.

Flipping through pages I had long forgotten and reading my slanted handwriting felt strange. I saw myself in these words, but there seemed to be a slight divide between my current state of mind and these entries from the past.

I came across an entry I wrote on January 1, 2019. Some of the words were smudged purple due to an accidental spill of water, and in bubble letters I had written the words “New Year, Big Thoughts.”

“January 1st feels very strange,” I wrote. “It’s 2019, almost the end of the decade. But I also feel like there really is nothing different? I am still the same — I look the same I talk the same I think the same. I can remember standing in my kitchen when I was eight or so thinking about how far away the year 2020 was. Now it’s literally next year! I have so much future ahead of me and I don’t know what to do with it, it’s pretty scary. I want 2019 to be great but I am OK if it doesn’t quite turn out that way…”

In a different journal I had written an entry on July 27, 2019, only a few weeks before school began, during the last few slivers of vacation. I had spent that summer in Korea, and I wrote about an evening I had spent at my aunt’s house.

“I sat in the living room which has this beautiful view that gives me this feeling I wish I could accurately describe,” the entry. “We don’t really have trees like that back home, not in that color. I wish one day I could drive under tall trees as green and bright as those, or maybe live under them, and tell someone next to me how they make me feel.”

As trivial and meaningless as these entries felt, they seemed to resonate with something inside me. I think it was the fact that all these emotions of mine over the course of months had been physically scribbled out onto pages, bringing back moments and thoughts that would have otherwise been a blur.

I did not feel profoundly different than my past self, but being able to look at everything that had occurred to me, big and small, was comforting.

It was nice to read about some pretty trees I saw last summer, how much I used to like a certain movie or a geometry test that made me nervous. It was nice to see how I subtly I had grown without even realizing it. It was nice to see that nothing had been bottled up, left for me to bury deep down in my head.

Time seems to move so fast these days, so much that sometimes it is easy to forget about all the little things that make life worth living.

But looking at the journal entries that I had kept made me realize that each second lived has its own unique color and that although everything may feel mundane now, there will be a day where I will want to look back.

Journaling does not necessarily have to be pages and pages of long writing. It can mean any form of documenting experiences that are meaningful to you.

Whether that may be a series of messy doodles, short poems or a monthly list of favorite songs, journals can not only serve as a creative and emotional outlet, but they can easily become personal time capsules, ones that may remind you of what seems like nothing but will warm your heart nonetheless.