Journal, Journey

The words “journal” and “journey” have their roots in the same Latin word-–diurnus,  “of the day.” Each day we travel along our life, and yes, inevitably toward our death. I know that’s unpopular to say, but it’s what makes paying attention important.

Storm cloud, seen from airplane. © Quinn McDonald. All rights reserved. 2012

Each day is a series of moments, and then the sun sets, and the day is over. We can’t get it back. We can’t live it over. It is written in permanent ink. Each day molds us, changes us, makes us more experienced and older. Each day we become stronger in some ways, weaker in others. It’s never the same day.

So when someone asks me if I write in my journal every single day, with a slight hint of fear over the chore and obligation,  I reply, “Yes, if I’m lucky.”

Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach. She is a journalist of her own journey.


6 thoughts on “Journal, Journey

  1. Pingback: Midnight Madness « creativetidalwave

  2. Amazing photo, Quinn, and a very thought-provoking post. I am reading in light of being a mom, and sometimes saying things in a tone with my girls that I regret. Thankfully children are resilient in the face of that permanent ink! I love your line that our march toward death is what makes paying attention important.

  3. I’ve always been fascinated by time. It’s quite difficult to tell quite what it is, and its nature is also mysterious, or at least multifaceted. Does time really exist as a series of moments where a moment has no duration? Logically that can’t be so, as you’d immediately run into one of Zeno’s paradoxes — specifically the one about the arrow.

    Or perhaps time doesn’t exist apart from us. It’s certainly a key part of the way we perceive the world, but it doesn’t seem to be a key part of “perception” itself. The world appears to change independently of our observations, but maybe that doesn’t necessarily imply time, exactly. It might be a function only of space; the world over here differs from the world over there, and time only comes into it when a memory-bound observer is involved.

    Memory is important here; our ideas about time are almost all ideas about memory. Absent a recollection of when something began, or how something “was before”, would we recognize time? And absent memory, the coveted record of what we have done and been and experienced, can we be said to be self-aware?

    An old story about a question posed to a philosophy class: “imagine you are given a choice; you can, if you wish, live an utterly wonderful life (whatever that means to you; riches, good works, knowledge, etc). You can be transported to it instantly, and never leave. But the price is you will have no memory at all of your life before that instant.” The students debate the choice, then meet the question: “If you choose the wonderful life, how is that different from it happening to someone else?” Self is, in large part — maybe entirely — memory.

    Both time and self seem to be, at their core, memory. Memory has a physical aspect; it seems to be located in the brain, or at least associated with it. Yet it’s not exclusively physical; a brain containing 50 years of memories is not necessarily larger than a brain containing only 5 months’ worth. It might even be “the same” brain — although why do we so easily recognize sameness when the constituent molecules are entirely different and the patterns of thought and memory are also entirely different? Again we’re left with memory.

    Beyond its physical incarnation, which itself seems less distinct the closer it’s examined. memory must also involve pattern. Chemicals in particular combinations, in specific positions, with energy in just such an arrangement. Chemistry is, of course, patterns of matter — atoms, molecules, and the like — and energy. The molecules themselves seem to be interchangeable; the ones that comprise you today almost certainly differ entirely from those that comprised you last year. It is only pattern that persists.

    Yet molecules themselves are immensely patterned things; they are almost entirely not there at all, but they are not there in a very particular way. They pass in and out of the larger patterns we agree ourselves to be, seamlessly matching their patterns with the larger, then just as seamlessly unmatching.

    This is also the way it is with us; pattern within pattern, always changing, and the boundaries only agreed upon for the moment. Very much like clouds. It’s curious how often time, memory, and clouds are connected.

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