It was time for me to do my Mouse and I was about to regale you with another squirrel story; this one blaming them for Global Warming. Alas, even I could not stand it. So, in this turbulent time I thought you might be interested in me regaling you on diaries or journals. Bill, my faithful companion, has been keeping a daily journal since 1997. He was flying F-16s, and took our youngest son Tom to Aviano. Tom worked on the planes and Bill flew them. They were gone from January to March that year, and when December came, Bill presented me with his yearly journal in a cherry wood box.
At first, I confess I thought, “Ha, cheap gift.” But then I began to feel differently as I read the words, that included thought or two for me. The next year, starting on January 1, 1998, I started out with a diary for Bill. After about two weeks, I cheated—not on Bill, on the diary. I could not make myself write every day. It turned into a scramble to get the week in on Sunday nights. Tsk, Tsk, the good Sisters of Corpus Christi School would never have stood for that lackadaisical performance. Bill, however, almost never fails to give it a go in the morning with coffee or on the couch at night. Such devotion, to his diary, ahem, excuse me, journal. Women write a diary; men write journals.
Then when I was about to blame the squirrels for the current weather conditions, the thought came to me. This is the perfect time for anyone to start journaling. When this is all over, what you decided to have for breakfast today might bring a smile or crash a lamp as you toss it. When you reread your words, thoughts and feelings, it can lower your blood pressure. It is good to get it all out there. Once you have written it, it brings peace and closure.
Writing a daily report began as early as the 1600s, when people left Europe and came to the new world. Several Catholic priests wrote about their trips to New Mexico and were very vivid in their descriptions. The reports had a spiritual halo about them, as they offered the natives a chance to join the church and save their souls.
Most people regard a diary as a private thing. Little girls have them with a key and lock, which their little brothers can break into with a cereal spoon. People of the Quakers or Society of Friends would write and share their thoughts publicly to show their apostolic zeal for their faith. The definition I looked up for this indoor writing fest was, “to write a personal account that was practical or imaginative, prevalent form of literature by common people.” What? Common?
The Civil War was the first time most of the troops could write, and when photography was common. It is the first war where we have letters and journals written by troops in the field. School had become not just for the rich with tutors and books. School made it possible for regular folks to know what was written in the newspaper, or what to read in the library or on notes to pass in class, “Johnny loves Mary.”
Journals were not only to write what happened that day but also were a record of business, farming, ranching, and church news. They recorded births, deaths, and accidents. If you were told not to walk behind that mule, but did anyway, you might be the one that shows up in the family stories too good not to be written and told.
Today we have blogs and vlogs, and anyone who wants a forum can get one for free. Strike up a key and you can be the Shakespeare, Churchill, or the Franklin of today. Ben Franklin wrote “Poor Richard’s Almanack.” He was such a people’s guy. “Three may keep a secret, if two are dead.” “Lost Time is never found again.” “In the Affairs of this World Men are saved, not by Faith, but by the Lack of it.” And the best of all, “If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing.” Next week, get ready to learn all about squirrels and their plan to take over the world. Roaring Mouse, keyboarding, out.
From 1966 to 1971, Jo attended the University of New Mexico and Memphis State University, earning degrees in Communications, English, Journalism, Speech and Drama with history minors. At UNM, her hero was Tony Hillerman. She taught high school and middle school in city, country, and private schools for 30 years. Roaring Mouse is in its 25 th year. She can be reached at [email protected]