We have so many vague feelings of hurt, envy, anxiety, and regret, but for the most part we never stop to make sense of them. It’s too un-comfortable, and especially difficult because we are so often busy and frazzled, hyper-connected yet a bit lonely. To really understand what we feel and think, we must turn away from distractions, common sense, and other people’s opinions. We need to develop intimacy with ourselves.
Our un-thought thoughts contain clues as to our needs and our longer-term direction. Writing them out is key. Through writing, we recognise patterns to observe and, perhaps, outgrow. We can strategise – a remarkably neglected task. We can ask ourselves why we make the choices we do. We can question faulty narratives and create new ones. We can consider ideas before we commit to them, and reinforce good ideas we already know.
Writing is ultimately the task of discovering and developing what we think. There could hardly be a more important personal goal.
A5 Linen bound notebook | 210 x 148 mm | 192 pages | 100grm Munken paper with printed dot grid
We use the word ‘affairs’ to refer to one of two very important, yet very different, concepts: either private passions – risky flings that unfold to the side of our main commitments – or else highly important matters of business, economic and political life. Either way, affairs need to be recorded in a place that’s discrete yet allows for expansion and elaboration. You can confess to either, or indeed both, in this journal.
During passionate affairs, writing helps us reflect on our infatuations and control some of the intensity of our feelings. We can jot down what it was about their smile, their way of laughing, their habit of touching their wrists when nervous… A journal allows us some mastery over emotions more powerful than any we might yet have felt. We might not have friends who would understand or sympathise with what we’re going through, but we need to express ourselves nevertheless.
As for the more significant kinds of affairs, here too we need the confidant or ideal friend that ordinary life generally doesn’t confer on us. The journal can be a place to get anxiety under control and convert our hunches into long-term plans. Guilt and anxiety all too easily get in the way of knowing ourselves and defining our passions. We need to think seriously, perhaps for weeks or months, about the crucial matters ahead of us. This journal, full of silent paper ‘rooms’, gives us the opportunity to contemplate our thoughts as they come to us.
Out there in the rest of our lives, our friends are often too eager to please, to give a useful opinion, or else they can be too full of their own slightly judgemental perspectives. Partners might be upset by our feelings, no matter how well-intentioned we are. But a journal is always a good listener and interpreter. It is the ideal silent companion to our most significant states of mind.