In 1839, English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton remarked that “The pen is mightier than the sword.” For more than 175 years, his words have pointed to the efficacy of good communication and the power of a free press to resolve conflicts and to create deeper understanding among people. Pen and paper, as humble as they may appear, have force; and, their strike truly is “mightier than the sword” in the ability to transform rather than destroy.
This month, we are pleased to welcome soon-to-be graduate TyKeira R. as the thoughtful guest who inspired this month’s post in The Breakroom. We thank TyKeira for her reflections on the art and science of the written word in all of its many forms that were shared recently in her class with Ms. Delores Moore, Caroline Center’s instructor for computers, speech, and business writing. An avid journal writer, TyKeira appreciates the thought processes that shape good writing as much as the many forms writing can take.
In her own writing and in her time at Caroline Center as she prepares to become a certified pharmacy technician, TyKeira is not waiting for the world to change. As she reminds readers through her favorite quotation, “It’s not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”
I remember that I started writing in my journal when I was just 10 years old. Then, and maybe now, my journal allowed me to blow off a little steam and to express myself – to say things on paper that I couldn’t say to the adults around me. When I was angry, I would always turn to my journal. But, then I found my journal was also a good keeper of my words when I was happy. So many of the pages are stained by my tears; but, they are tears of both sadness and joy.
From the beginning, my journal was like a best friend. You’ve heard the saying, “A good friend knows all your stories. A best friend helps you write them.” It’s so true. The presence of the empty pages between two covers and a pen or pencil helped me to create adventures that nourished my mind, body, and soul. Journaling helped me discover my wants and wishes. In time, as I grew older, I knew that journaling helped me to dream – about what I could be and about what life could be.
Sometimes people think about journaling in the same way they think about keeping a diary; but, journal-writing and diary-keeping can be very different. A journal allows you to express your feelings, thoughts, and emotions in the same way a diary can; but, a journal can take you to the next step of actually changing your experience of the world. Writing in a journal can help you change the way you feel about things; the way you see things; and, even the way you act. I know someone who journaled about her overwhelming fear of heights. The power of writing out her fear helped her when she went hiking with her family. On the hiking trip, she remembers going straight to the top of a mountain for the view. She didn’t even think about what she had actually accomplished until after she did it. Now, today, she is no longer afraid of heights. Thinking about her fear and consciously trying to overcome it, was not enough. Her journaling and the actions her writing inspired, however, enabled her to move beyond her fear – to a different way of seeing the world and her relationship to it.
I have found that journaling is a great tool for creating self-awareness and for accomplishing important, constructive self-adjustments in your thinking. On a sad day, I write in my journal, of course. But, I also take a look back into the pages where I have written about positive, hopeful things I have done or observed. When I need motivation and reassurance that I can’t always get from others around me, I look into the pages of my journal for inspiration. And, sometimes when I am confused or my brain is a little cloudy, I open my journal in search of much-needed peace of mind. There is a saying I like that goes this way, “Peace of mind arrives the moment you come to peace with the contents of your mind.” A journal that you have been faithful to as a writer literally holds the “contents of your mind.” Just skimming the pages of your journal gives you the opportunity to re-arrange the pieces of what may feel like a long-hidden puzzle so that you can achieve the peace that makes all things possible.
In a recent issue of The Sun magazine, philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore speaks about good writing as having the attributes of being “courageous, truthful, and humane” – virtues, she says, that today “are so rare, they seem radical.” Journal writing can be radical, maybe should be radical, in just these ways. Writing down your thoughts – in phrases, paragraphs, or poetry – is brave and honest in the way that we all need to be brave and honest in this world if our humanity is to increase and grow, and not be diminished.
In so many ways – ways that TyKeira has discovered and is continuing to discover – journaling is “not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”