Looking back through all of my journals, I’m particularly taken by the long and slender volume of 2006.
That year was a tough one for me.
Some intense relationship challenges and persistent and unhelpful compulsive mind-speak churned extreme feelings of self doubt. In the midst of all that, I found myself waking each morning to a feeling of dread and unease.
Fortunately — and quite accidentally — I stumbled into the counsel of a friend who just happened to be a newly minted “life coach.” He offered to help me work through my anxieties as long as I would commit to doing “the work.”
Our sessions were brutal.
He challenged me to question everything I had thought or assumed or took for granted about myself and my outlook. He relentlessly called me on my bullshit, and dared me to go deeper in examining my life and my behaviors. He called in to question my reactions, my insecurities, my fears.
The Work ripped me raw.
The difference in the months between who I was before that Work and who I became after was, as another close friend put it, “like night and day.”
Like that certain stillness that comes after a storm, I was — and remain — calmer. Less anxious. More forgiving. More Balanced.
That isn’t to say there isn’t more work to do — there always is. But a transformation occurred that summer and autumn that lead me to a deep self-examination and resulted in my realization that, to a very large degree, the antics of our minds create our own suffering. This made for a massive shift in how I live and view my life.
Back to my journal.
A lot of the Work I did that year was through writing, and the pages of my journal from that year are filled with torment.
However, by the dawning of the New Year an extreme shift in my awareness had taken place. As I perused my journal pages that New Year’s Eve, I was overcome with a desire to take those earlier pages of darkness and transform them into something bright. Re-imagine them, just as, in a very real way, I had come to re-imagine my life.
So I pulled out my paints and, with a bit of color here and there, re-birthed those pages.
Did I make great or art on those pages? Not likely. But the act of transformation — the process of sifting through those painful memories and letting go of their old form and metamorphose into something new was powerful.
Which brings me nine years forward to this year. As I wrote in my previous post, I was a bit aghast to discover as I read through last year’s journal what I whiner I can be, and how, ultimately, all that time spent whining is unproductive and leads to a vicious circle of egoic obsession.
So I’m taking a lesson from my 2006 self, and reinventing last year’s journal. With paint and ink and whatever else I feel like, I’m creating a workbook of painting experiments. Playful. Experimental. Bold and gentle, dark and light.
Who would have thought transforming negative into positive could be so much fun?