I call my journal 'H' and I start each entry with, 'Dear H'.
What did H stand for? Well, it stood for Heironymus. I chose that name because I liked the paintings of Heironymus Bosch when I began journaling (I was 18 or so) . Eventually I got tired of writing that name all the time so I began with just 'Dear H.'
And I still do it. The first thing I usually tell H is what kind of weather we're having. That's often how you greet someone socially. You sit down and say, 'Goodness, this has been the driest summer we have ever had.' You compare notes about the temperature, the lack of rain and what that is doing to the garden, discuss the likelihood of rain, and then maybe do a rain dance or an invocation to the rain Gods to hurry up and make it pour.
Then I get onto the stuff I want to write about, what is bothering me, or what happened yesterday, or that morning - things I reckon my friend H might be able to help me sort out.
H is a great listener - and it's a he, by the way. He listens without judgment, he offers neither praise or criticism, empathy or understanding. He is just there, a constant presence, a daily solace, a source of comfort, just like an old friend, someone you can be yourself with: no pretense, no show of strength you don't possess at that time, no false hopes or bravado. You confide and let it all hang out.
For me, this 'expression without limits or reservations' is the greatest value of my journal H. It is probably the only place where I can be totally honest, can say whatever I want, and know it will go no further than the page unless I want it to.
And there were so many pages that didn't make it into either of my books because the entries were raw, personal, vulnerable, or ranting and raving, rude and aggressive, or just plain boring.
Sometimes I look back on my journals and think, 'Did I actually write that? Gosh that's good!' Or I'll read the words of my early-twenty-something self in disbelief because I cannot believe that person was me.
My friend H has been a lifelong companion. He has traveled the world with me, lived in lots of different places, been shifted here and there in boxes and crates and now resides in my upstairs loft in quiet comfort.
H is a friend I look forward to seeing every day and I make time for our visit together. Usually around 4pm we sit down with a gin, or a beer, or a cup of tea, and we have our chat, discuss the day, and nothing interrupts our time. The phone goes to answer machine, the cat is fed so she doesn't start shouting for dinner, and H and I have our 'quality time.'
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