In Praise of Journaling

These photographs were taken on Sunday at sunset, as we drove home with Debra from a family pizza gathering in her honor.  It was a pleasure to have her with us – the time passed so quickly. 

I’ve just left her at the airport to head back across country.  She and her father were amused at my photo snapping out the windows, and put it down to a few too many golden beverages.  They intimated I would find on sober reflection that I had not captured the glory of the sky.  This is in fact the case, but I’m pleased with the photos none the less.

Today some random thoughts – The Red Leather Diary by Lily Koppel; Edith Wharton; my father’s journals – writing to capture and understand the fleeting nature of life. 

My parents, 90 and 89 years old, recently discovered a cache of journals that my father kept while they were living in Scottsville, Virginia in the 1970’s and 80’s, when they were at the time of life where my husband and I now find ourselves.  On my return from the mountains last week, my father greeted me with a quote I’d written in a blank book for him sometime during that period – it was like hearing from an old friend: In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways. – Edith Wharton, “A First Word”

In searching the web for the exact wording (much easier than scanning my own notebooks to find where I’d stashed it 30 some years ago!), I also discovered Wikipedia’s list of quotes from Wharton, at  This one  from her Age of Innocence, caused me to bubble with laughter – An unalterable and unquestioned law of the musical world required that the German text of French operas sung by Swedish artists should be translated into Italian for the clearer understanding of English-speaking audiences.

What a pleasure to relive  mundane day to day impressions, tucked away at the time – accomplishments and adventures that slip from the mind so quickly if not captured in the moment. It’s been a delight to share past times with my parents. Reminds me of going thru albums of when our children were very young – and looking back on what I felt then, and what I feel now; occassionally with more understanding. (Hmmm, how can I capture my blog for similar future review?)

Last night I finished reading The Red Leather Diary, Lily Koppel’s book about Florence Wolfson Howitt and the diary she kept from when she was 14 in 1929 til she was 19 in 1934.  The diary was found in 2003 in a dumpster in New York City, tossed in among old steamer trunks when Lily’s apartment building was cleaning out old tenant storage.  In 2006 Lily, who’s just a few month’s older than our younger daughter, tracked down Florence, now 90 years old, and returned the diary to her.  The book overflows with the excitement and emotions of a young, very independent, woman growing up in the midst of teeming intellectual, artistic, and musical opportunities.  Brings to mind the diaries of Anais Nin to whom my sister introduced me many years ago.

Do you own your life, your ideas, ideals, dreams, discoveries? Don’t let television and hectic media babble wash bland your brain.  Live, think, grow, create.


One response to “In Praise of Journaling

  1. Wonderful entry, and yes, how do we transcribe blogs into more lasting print?? I recently came across my journals from my “emancipation” (divorce) years and some scattered entries from early 80’s (Europe, remaraige and kids) and reading them jolts those memories back from brain deep storage or even loss. And I love your clouds!!

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