I’ve kept a sporadic journal over the last several years, I’d recommend it as a way to get your thoughts out of your head and on to paper where they’ll do you less harm.
But although I wrote somewhat regularly, I never got in the habit of going back over things I had written days or months before and re-reading them. I guess I just wanted to blow off steam, and once the mood was gone, wasn’t really interested in re-visiting it.
But I’ve recently gone back over my journals, and was amazed at seeing different themes and questions repeat themselves. It’s a good way to get a snapshot of where your head was at, frozen on paper.
I see myself getting stuck at the same point…asking the same questions, taking different approaches, but not punching through the fog to the answer. It becomes really easy to identify ruts in your thinking.
It reminds me of those little ponies you used to see giving rides at the carnival as a kid, lashed to a pole and walking around and around in the same circle. Maybe every other day they got to go clockwise instead of counter-clockwise, but they wear the same circle in the grass and see the same things.
On a day to day basis, we tend to see old routines and thoughts dressed in slightly different clothes, and think they are brand new. By going back over our ruminations, we can see that nope, we were here before…..and stopped just short of a breakthrough.
I’m not sure why I didn’t develop this habit of reviewing things before. Maybe it’s too comfortable to just plow the same furrow and think you’re breaking new ground.
Or maybe I’m finally able to pick up where I left off and move things a little further down the road.
Whatever the reason, I recommend if you keep a journal, once a week go back to a random page. You’ll be amazed at how familiar it looks.