The Art of Reflection
I’m a straight-up journal junkie. There are fewer possessions I prize more than a brand new journal filled with a stack of clean, unblemished paper. (Hint hint: if you’re ever unsure of what to get me for a gift, this plus a bottle of raspberry wine is it, please and thanks.)
At the end of every year, I like to take a bit of time to read through my journal and reflect on the happenings of the previous year.
This year, however, I put my annual reflection off. With the busyness of my friend’s New Year’s Eve wedding, starting a new job and traveling between my hometown and Nashville, it got lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life.
It wasn’t until just the other day that I finally forced myself to take a moment to actually sit down and reflect on 2014. But before diving into my journal from this previous year, I thought it would be a good idea to first reminisce on my college glory days by re-reading all my old journals from my undergraduate years.
I was left feeling irritated with the things my past self actually felt were a priority, when in reality they were anything BUT. “Why wasn’t I just grateful with my current circumstances and all the blessings I did have?” I wondered as I read through my earlier self’s complaints and naïve wishes. I was so displeased with my past ramblings that I couldn’t even finish reading through all of them.
So instead, I took a day’s break then skipped straight to my 2014 notebook. Of course, this too left my heart aching, but not in the same irritated-with-myself sense as above. This time, it hurt to relive this past year simply because of how wonderful it had been. As I read my happy words proclaiming my giddiness upon arriving in London, I felt a sense of loss – that sense of loss that happens when you get stuck on the thought that you won’t ever be able to recapture a moment from your past. And stuck I became. With each page I turned, my heart sunk lower and lower.
I would imagine we all have that certain year pinpointed as “the best year of our life.” 2014 was that year for me. And now, it’s over.
But as my friend reminded me on the drive home New Year’s Eve, I mustn’t tell myself that “2014 was the best year of my life” as if all upcoming years will continually pale in comparison. Sure, 2014 was the best year of my life, but only so far.
I’m honestly a tad apprehensive about 2015. For the first time in my life, I have no idea where I’ll be a year from now, or even a month from now. That’s hella scary for a gal like me who loves herself a good life plan. However, as I look back over my musings from the summer before freshman year of college, I see that those fears I had of moving to a city where I knew no one were unfounded. Just as I survived – no, thrived in – my first year of college, so too will I thrive in my first year of post-college life. We all will.
Keeping a journal is like charting your growth in prose, a way of taking inventory of your past. Though reading through your old thoughts may sometimes feel like one giant FACE PALM, it allows you to see that you’ve grown and changed through the years and that your previous worries proved to be baseless. It serves as a time capsule of your life’s moments – the joyful ones, the tough ones and the UGH-SO-ANNOYING ones.
But the art of reflection isn’t a means of dwelling only on the past; instead, it opens your eyes to what the future really is: not some darkened path through the Forbidden Forest, but instead a clean sheet of parchment, waiting for you to pick up your quill and ink your epic.
What will your story be?