20 July, 2011

Return Of The Journal

It was such a perfect gift, this journal. It’s beautiful - with just the right feel when one holds it in their hand. Shortly after receiving it I told the individual who gave it to me that I was reluctant to write in this leather-bound treasure, and almost two years later I have yet to do so. It remains, however, an inspiration and perhaps that is as it should be. Certainly when the time is finally right and my pen is, in fact, sufficiently inspired, the ink will flow, and the pages will fill.

This journal and the encouragement of my friend have resulted in the three hundred or so essays I've written in the past year and a half. I still recall when I had yet to write anything but was in possession of the journal. When I wondered when to start writing, I was advised, "Now. Now. Now." It was good advice, and I took it.

Embossed on the cover of this journal are the words "Carpe Diem." Oh my, but that is perfect - especially the "diem" as you'll see below. It has powerful symbolism for me at many levels, and as evidence of its importance to me, you can see it behind the spiral at the left of this blog's main header.

Journal is an interesting word, dating from 13th century Middle English and meaning “a church service book containing the day hours.” In turn, that descends from the Old French jurnal meaning daily. That, of course, is from the Latin diurnus meaning of the day; Day in Latin is dies. By 1560 Journal was being used as a term for a record of transactions, but it wasn’t until the 1600s that it was used to mean a personal diary.

Journey is a newer word, at least in the way we use it today. It also begins as the Latin diurnus. In Old French we find journée meaning a day's work or travel and leading to the 13th century Middle English journey signifying a defined course of traveling. As recently as 1755, however, the primary sense was still the travel of a day.

I dwell on the etymology because I love words but also because it reveals the inter-connectedness of the two words. In another place I have defined journey as the unfolding course of one's life, and in my current context that expression has taken on powerful symbolism. After all, that was why I was given this treasure – as a place to chronicle my journey in prose and poetry, to sketch wordless images of what I see or feel along the way, and to play with thoughts that emerge as I come to understand the river of cycles that is my life.

I like that Journal and Journey have the same origin. Although I know they look similar, lots of unrelated words do, and for me the words do not convey an obvious connection, at least not in the literal sense. It is appropriate though. I can use my journal to record my day’s journey, page by page and discovery by discovery, and if not recorded in the journal itself, at least inspired by the journal.

I suspect my friend understood this, intuitively if not directly, and I need to find once again a fitting way to offer my thanks. I suppose the best thanks would be to share some pages newly inked in the journal, and I look forward to the day when that moment has finally come.

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