TAKE A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE: How To Preserve Your Yesterdays With A Diary
Mary Hazel Upton
BLOG POST FOR MARIETTE'S MAGIC TYPEWRITER PAGE
APRIL 15, 2016 FRIDAY
ASHLAND PARK ALONG OHIO RIVER CLARKSVILLE, INDIANA
I took this photo on October 29, 2015
TAKE A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE
MARY HAZEL UPTON
Memory Lane. The words conjure up images of a country road lined with ancient trees, the kind of country road pictured on old-fashioned calendar pages. It may be summer, autumn, spring, or even winter, but it is the kind of picture that makes you feel as if once long ago you walked on that road. You long to step into the picture for just one more walk.
We all have our own real memory lanes, made even more beautiful by being seen through the fond haze of long ago time. It is often said that nothing, not even time, can rob us of our memories, that even if we lose all else, they still endure. Even memories fade, though, growing dim like old photographs. Eventually as the years pass, only the special days remain in our minds. So much else is lost.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could have some kind of magical time machine to allow us to return to Memory Lane to walk beneath those ancient trees again whenever we wished? Well, there is such a time machine. It's called a journal. With its aid you can save not only your special memories, but everyday ones too. You can return to times past whenever you like.
There is a difference between a journal and a diary. A diary is private, concentrating more on personal thoughts than events. It is something you may or may not want to share with anyone else. A journal is more a straightforward recording of events. The journal that you will be shown how to keep in this article is meant to be shared with others. As the years go by, it will become more and more precious to you and your loved ones.
The first stumbling block most people run up against when they think about keeping a journal is a belief that they can't write well enough. "Oh, I'm not a writer." "I can't write." "I wouldn't know what to say." You don't have to be a professional writer, or even a good speller to keep a journal. Remember, this is your book. You are writing it only for yourself. Anyway, part of the charm and authenticity of a journal is that it reflects the personality and lifestyle, rough spots and all, of the writer. To preserve this charm, don't rewrite what you've written to make it "proper". Write directly in your book. If you make a mistake, cross it out or erase it and go on writing. Don't worry too much about what or how much to write. Just do the best you can, and you may be surprised at how your writing gradually improves.
The first thing you may realize when you start keeping a journal is that it is impossible to record everything that has happened to you, even on a day that nothing much seems to have happened. Select only the most important events, or ones you particularly want to remember, to record in your journal. Your journal will also be more interesting if you concentrate on particular details, the weather, what you wore to a party, what flowers were in bloom in your garden on a particular day. These details will help bring back the memory of a long ago day more completely when you reread your entries. Your journal is also a good place to save important information such as a trip to the doctor and what medicine was prescribed for a member of your family, or the date purchased and pertinent information about a new car. My journal is the only place I can be sure such information will be permanently preserved and not eventually discarded. Of course, dark days must be recorded as well as bright, but think twice before writing down details of family quarrels, etc. If you must "let off steam" this way, a diary is the place to do it, not a journal.
Journals come in all sizes and shapes. For the first time journalist, those hardbound Daily-aide books with one page for each day make good journals. Just disregard the listings for time of day, intended for those using them as appointment books. The cute lock and key diaries are fine if you can find a one year one. The five year ones really don't give you enough space to write. Loose leaf notebooks or spiral bound notebooks make inexpensive personalized journals, and the length of your entries can be varied more easily. There are also no blank pages left in them if you decide to skip writing one day.
The best time to write in your journal is at the end of the day, just before bedtime. The next best time is the next morning, before you start your day's work. Try not to skip days. If you do, catching up the journal will be a burdensome task, and you may forget a lot of what you wanted to save. However, as you keep a journal day after day, it is amazing how your memory improves. It becomes possible to catch up several days worth of entries if you have to.
The simplest kind of journal to keep is the daily journal we've just discussed. There are many other kinds of journals, though. The types are limited only by your own imagination. You may want to keep one or more of them instead of, or in addition to, your daily journal. Just be careful not to "bite off more than you can chew". A vacation journal can be written in only on vacations, or on vacations to a special place that you return to year after year. A special occasion journal can be written in only on special occasions such as Christmas, birthdays, etc. When these journals are kept in loose leaf notebooks, you can paste special photos in the journal also, creating a photo-journal. Another idea is to let members of your family help with the entries. If they don't enjoy writing, let them dictate their entries for you to write down. Then be sure to designate the writer of that particular entry.
Once your journals start accumulating, you will be able to travel back to any day in the past whenever you wish. Set aside some time to share your journals with your family too by reading aloud from them. Let each member of your family pick a particular day to "return to", or perhaps see what you were doing three Fourth Of July's ago.
A journal gives you perspective too. As you travel back to the past, going deeper and deeper into your own yesterdays, you will realize that bad times never last forever. After the rain, the sun always shines again. You will learn to occasionally leave your busy today behind to walk under those ancient trees of Memory Lane. And you will know you have time to pause for just a moment to feel the slow, stately march of the seasons and of time, and to feel the wind of eternity on your face. Who knows? Perhaps someday, a hundred years from now, someone, who hasn't been born yet, will find your journal in an old house, read it, and wish they could have known you?
Written in 1990.
AUTUMN TREE ON ADAM & McKINLEY STREETS IN CLARKSVILLE, INDIANA
PHOTOGRAPH BY HAZEL FERN HENSON
There was no date on this very old photograph in one of Mama's books of flower photos. She often went for walks in the neighborhood to take photos. The car in the photo looks old, so guys who can look at cars and tell you the exact make and model would be able to approximately date this photo.
DAISIES ON RANDOLPH AVENUE IN CLARKSVILLE, INDIANA
I took this photo on October 16, 2015. The flowers were growing at the edge of the fence in someone's yard near Greenacres Grade School. I was on my way home after taking Hammerhead, my adopted Daddy, home from breakfast that morning, and I stopped and took the photo of the daisies and some other flowers.