Diary – a book, notebook, or planner in which one records events; usually written in a plain, brief, superficial manner
Journal – a book, notebook, or any collection of written thoughts in which one writes about events in more detail; especially including feelings, opinions, beliefs, hopes, fears, reflections, etc.
Painting by Munkácsy
Study of Eve for “Milton” (1878)
Mihály Munkácsy (1844-1900)
It all started in May of 1997. I had been searching the ‘Net for writing sites when I stumbled upon the ‘Joys of Journaling’ by accident. Before reading this site, I had a vague misconception that keeping a diary was something thirteen-year-old girls did to record their secret crushes. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
‘Journaling,’ or ‘keeping a journal,’ as it is properly referred to, is something much more complex and profound. Unlike a diary, which is a simple record of events, a journal preserves your very identity, a snapshot of your soul. In a journal, you record thoughts, feelings, experiences (and how you feel about those experiences), hopes, fears, dreams, desires, and so on. Everything that comes into your mind, making you the person that you are, is recorded for posterity; saving the moments of your life so that you can always remember them. Saving yourself from the ravages of time and oblivion.
My reasons for starting a journal seemed simple enough at the time. I had felt that life was passing me by; so by writing my life down as it was happening, I hoped to hold on to my experiences and memories before they slipped through my fingers, becoming distant shadows.
My other reason for starting had to do with family history. Very recently I had lost beloved family members and experienced the grave aftermath of intense grief, really only for the first time. I felt empty and hollow as if I had lost my identity and past; as if I had died with them. With my journal, I aspired to record my memories of them, the stories they had passed on to me; preserving their identities in my journal helped save my own identity, too.
Soon after I started reading the ‘Joys of Journaling,’ I ran up to my cluttered attic and found the old blank artist’s sketchbook that I had noticed earlier while rummaging around. It had belonged to my grandfather, a talented artist, who died when I was but eight years old.
The dusty first page still had a sketch he had drawn of some house project he had been planning to do and never had a chance to. Although it may have brought tears to my eyes, at times, realizing I never really knew who he was and never would, having something that belonged to him, that he had touched, gave me a connection to him and made my journal even more special.
As the months went by I discovered more and more reasons why keeping a journal is so great, so helpful, so meaningful. Writing down my thoughts on paper made me more organized and focused. I began to figure out who I was because writing clarified my opinions, feelings, beliefs, and desires.
I felt like I was starting to live life more deeply and fully as I recorded my experiences and perceptions in detail. My emotional well-being became more stabilized, too, as I was able to vent difficult feelings into my journal, rather than keep them bottled and jumbled up inside. For the first time in more than a decade, I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Journaling helped me escape (or at least greatly reduce) the suffocating, heartrending effects of profound depression. Journaling has saved my life.
The Purpose of this Site
My journaling site is not meant to be preachy (even though I may sound, at times, like a religious zealot, newly converted!); nor do I wish to imply that if you don’t keep a journal, there is something wrong with you. Rather, I hope to enlighten those who may never have heard or thought seriously about keeping a journal, what it is like to keep one, how you can use it, and detail some of the great benefits to be had.
You may be wondering, “What on Earth does all this have to do with ‘L’Horizon chimérique’?” Well, it seems obvious to me that keeping a journal is an art form in itself. When I first learned about journaling, I was truly amazed at the variety of ways one could write and use a journal, and I think you will be, too. Your journal is a creative expression of who you are.
I have designed this site as a summary, or organized presentation of what journaling involves, as much for my clarification as for beginners. I hope you will enjoy it.