It is a constant struggle for me to cast aside dead skin, or burn it away, to keep from being smothered by it. It seems as if I am always in danger of asphyxiating on the ashes I can’t help but inhale, or suffocating as I make my way out of the husk of old growth that’s wrapped around me. More often the latter, actually, because it takes an intense flame to burn it away and I don’t seem to always have that. And so I wrap myself in dead skin, like a cocoon that’s warm enough, comfortable enough… and miserable enough, but that I’m compelled to break out of.
Even in creating a journal I’ve struggled in trying to reconcile it with the ones I’ve kept in the past; the intentions behind them, the value they’ve had, how I might find inspiration from the way I went about writing in them. Again and again I kept getting stuck on the possibilities, and worrying about a new journal I’ll just lose interest in writing in if I don’t figure out how I want to go about it, and what intention the tone should be set with. But I’ve finally decided to just say fuck it. See, I know better. The idea, as ever, is to choose, and act. Far more effective an approach than over-thinking and getting all indecisive about it.
I’ve returned many times to the question of what a journal is, what purpose it serves, and I have plenty of answers. To many. This is one of those times I’ve had to collapse the overwhelming amount of possibilities to bring the important things into focus, because a journal can be used in countless ways. Reflectively, contemplating memories and lessons of the past. Actively, tracking progress in the present and leaving a trail that can be looked back on later. It can be abstract, intellectual, centered around ideology, concepts, and explorations of one paradigm or another. Or it can be visceral, emotive, filled with emotional texture and tied inseparably to the context of the present moment of each and every entry.
As a notebook too, a collection of quotations, rough notes, fragments of thought, preserved bits of text from external sources, and personal studies of people, methods, experiences, or anything else deemed noteworthy enough to put into a book of notes. And it can be a place to preserve certain lessons, exercises, assertions, and any other material one might wish to be showcased in the manner of a journal, a sort of disorganized compendium to store less refined materials and unpolished writings. There’s really no shortage of possibilities.
So to choose and act, I am incidentally brought back to the sweet scent of ashes I all to often get seduced by, only to choke on. As unintentional as that circle jerk was though, I don’t think arriving back at some of my own self made, fiery dust is going to have the usual effect. It was made from something William Blake said about desire only being restrained if it is weak enough to be restrained. That, and a poem I wrote a few years ago. Neither being likely to trip me up because I arrived at them quite by accident. See, it might be a struggle, but that’s how I operate, and I just keep on ticking. This is what brought Blake’s words to mind…
When there is a want, there is a way.
Whether it’s found depends entirely on how bad you want to find it.
I wanted a journal that felt right, and now I have it: Sojourn.
Which, like this blog itself…
…is whatever I want it to be.
A managerie of poetry.
Filthy love or clean hate.
Parts of the self I won‘t sedate.
And other things from inside of me.
Begging and tearing to be free.