Me and My Travel Journal
I dreamed the other night that my ex-boyfriend died, and it was gloriously cathartic.
Maybe I should explain that…
This guy was the man of my dreams. He was it for me. He was home. And then one day he was gone. It was a very challenging time in my life, and I turned to an outlet that has always been available to me – journaling.
I’ve traveled the world alone, sailed the high seas, and lived in a van while drifting wherever the tide of life wants to take me. Always, my ever-faithful companion has been a book of blank paper and a pen. Writing has been a passion of mine since I was old enough to hold a crayon. It has been an escape for me during the most painful and the most joyful times. I start a new journal for each chapter of my life. Every time I book a plane ticket, I buy a fresh journal. Every time I fill the tank in my van before hitting the open road for yet another cross-country solo drive, I buy a fresh journal.
I have boxes of half-filled journals in storage at my parents’ house that seep with spilled tears, inarticulate words from my broken heart, coffee stains from van living, sloppy scrawls of happy fast writing, and proclamations of how beautiful life is. Because even when life is hard, it is still shockingly beautiful.
Life is complex, and filled with gorgeous moments and bleak moments. How could we ever possibly remember it all unless we write it down?
I rarely read back through any of my journals; I keep them mostly because writing is an intensely therapeutic act for me, and partly because someday, when I’m in the last stages of life, I want to be able to graze my eyes upon my younger self’s handwriting and spark my memory with the vast experiences I’ll have forgotten. Life is complex, and filled with gorgeous moments and bleak moments. How could we ever possibly remember it all unless we write it down?
A few nights ago, I had stayed up late, sitting in the passenger seat of my Dodge van and gazing up towards Mount Marathon, the snow-capped peak that stands as guardian over my little summer town of Seward, Alaska. I spilled my words onto the blank pages of my journal. My words conveyed to the pages that it felt so liberating to be finished with my feelings for my ex, and to have found, after meeting up with him earlier that day for the first time since things had unraveled last year, that we were back to the place of friendship – that place where we had lived and laughed for years before things got “complicated”. I felt a sense of release as I wrote, and while my body lay still in bed that night, my mind swam to the world of dreams.
In the dream, he died, and I cried deeply and heavily, but the dream didn’t contain a feeling of foreboding, but rather a feeling of my heart soaring into the Alaskan sky and rejoicing that it was finally free.
I don’t feel so lonely when I’m reflecting onto the pages and sharing my joy and pain and awe and wonderment with my future self.
I awoke the next morning and reached for my journal again, attempting to articulate it all. Most often, in my private journal, I fail to fully capture the feeling of the situation. I fail to eloquently string the proper words together. I drop a shocking number of F-bombs, but these journals are mine; they are truly me, not the put-together, pretty me that is presented to the world.
While I’m traveling and exploring and discovering, my journals are the companion with which I share the beauty of the world. I don’t feel so lonely when I’m reflecting onto the pages and sharing my joy and pain and awe and wonderment with my future self. They say that reflection is the companion of the solo traveler, and I absolutely agree.
I’ve been a solo nomad for nearly 10 years now, and I can’t imagine my life without my journal. Those fresh blank pages beckon me with their endless potential and companionship. I journal about the wonderful and astounding things I see and experience while I’m traveling. I am an advocate for travel as one of the greatest forms of education, and I place my thoughts inside a little book of paper in the hope that the act of writing will help me truly soak it all in. I write while traveling because sometimes it is all so gorgeous and soul-filling that it feels as if my emotions will burst right through my skin. Writing is such a cathartic way to release it all; a way to remember. My journals are the souvenirs I collect and tuck safely into my suitcase.
Have you ever read an article in a travel magazine that sweeps your mind far away from your body and drops you into that place you’re reading about? It’s nearly as if the writer is sitting next to you and telling you of their wonderful journeys. It’s a glorious feeling, isn’t it? We may not all be brilliant writers, but in our private journals, we are all story-tellers. And those stories of life, the beauty and the pain, are stories that deserve to be written inside our little books of blank pages; blank pages that lovingly accept whatever words you desire to give them.
So go on, buy a journal, and see for yourself what unfolds when you open the cover.