My wife, Jo, journals every day while we travel. She’s been doing this for almost 15 years, faithfully reflecting on the previous day’s activities over morning coffee. Each major trip deserves a new journal, and by now Jo has amassed quite a collection.
According to research studies, journaling offers many mental and physical benefits to those who habitually record their thoughts and feelings. Journaling…
- Strengthens immune cells called T-lymphocytes
- Decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis
- Ups the I.Q. by increasing vocabulary
- Boosts memory
- Improves comprehension
- Untangles emotional knots, allowing the writer to solve problems and move forward rather than dwell on the past
- Lowers stress and anxiety
- Improves communication skills
- Furthers creativity: Writing, especially writing quickly, occupies the analytical, rational left side of the brain, thus freeing the creative, intuitive right side.
And the list of benefits goes on. But for Jo and many others who journal daily, the motivation to write goes beyond this harvest of benefits. When I asked Jo why she journals, she cited other reasons…to chronicle life… to process the everyday … to reference later. I’ll add another – to leave a legacy.
Recently, on our way back from Arizona where we had wintered for 3 months, we repurposed one of Jo’s journals. The drive home took days and the route we followed cut across miles of nothingness. There wasn’t much new to see along the way – just an endless ribbon of grey highway. This was nodding off material of the first degree.
On one particularly long stretch, Jo pulled out a journal from our time in Italy a few years ago. While I manned the wheel, she read to me. What a difference that made! As Jo recounted each day of our 5 weeks in the land of amore, the miles flashed by. Together we relived moments that we’d mostly forgotten. We laughed about the times we got lost on roundabouts, sighed over descriptions of luscious meals we’d enjoyed, and marvelled at the enduring construction methods of the ancient Romans. In short, we journeyed together anew.
Jo ends each of her journals with a summary. She polls me with questions like “What did you like?”…”What would you not want to do again?…”What was your favourite day?” … She writes several pages reflecting on the entire experience from both of our perspectives.
After she finished reading to me, Jo closed the book. “Would you go again?”she asked.
“Sure,” I said.
But then, somehow I felt as if I just had.