My life goes by too quickly when I don’t journal. Just yesterday, it seems, I wrote down some happenings. The next day, I was too busy. Journaling didn’t seem so important. Then the next day, then the next. And suddenly it was ten days later, like hitting the snooze button too many times and realizing you only have ten minutes to get to work.
Ten days is better; before that, it was a month.
Journaling is a dear, treasured habit that I haven’t been keeping up. I’ve always journaled, and since 2015 I’ve been collecting my yearly writings in print-copy paperbacks, because why not? I love having a paperback journal, and it’s a wonderful incentive to actually write.
I love writing, and yet I resist it fiercely. Isn’t this how it goes? Why do we resist what we love?
Because love is hard. You experience love and it threatens to break apart your very being. It takes you to the edge of overwhelm. It’s so powerful that it can break your life down to pieces in a moment. All that you think you are, all that you’ve built, demolished. Love builds towers, and it tears them down, with equal ease.
There is a sentimental, tepid, head-based thing we call love, and it’s the thing we say without thinking, the thing written on Hallmark cards, the infatuation with someone new and exciting. That kind of love is easy. Because it doesn’t mean anything.
The love I’m talking about is a love most parents know – a love so overwhelming and primal that the thought of anything bad happening to your children leaves you heaving, your entire being wracked with pain, so filled with the idea that you would do anything for that kid. All you’ve built, you would tear it down in a second if you needed to. That love is more powerful than any built life.
So love is hard. It’s a hard thing to feel, a hard thing to embrace. I think we spend a lot of time recoiling from love, preferring the safety of weaker states, states that don’t have the power to completely topple us.
I dearly love writing, and I always have. But I resist it, too. It’s work.
I’ve been in partnered relationships in an almost-unbroken chain since I was seventeen years old. Being in a relationship is natural and enjoyable for me, and I’m happier that way. But loving another person is hard; to be generous when you’re annoyed, kind when you’re indignant, to really talk, and really listen, to stay physically connected, to keep the hearth warm.
I love my daughter more than anything in the world, but parenting is the hardest gig I’ve ever had.
And that’s nothing to say of music, music, music.
That’s why I came to my journal today. I don’t just want to do what’s easy, because there’s no love there. What would I do instead? Some work emails, watch TV, read a book. All fine things, all things I’ll keep doing, but I have to remember the love. Journaling helps me remember (and psychedelics, but that’s for later).
Love is hard, but it’s one of the only things that actually matters. That’s why it topples towers. The towers were just pretend, and love was the only real thing all along.