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  • over the years i have kept writing journals. they had their start as secrective short entries in a leather diary, robin's egg blue, with a gold lock and key that i kept, where else? under my mattress. i've used them for emotional rants, mindless wanderings, working through conflicts or questions. and doodles. when i go back and re-read a few entries, i might find a one line poem. the process is great but i wound up with the same dilemma each time. what to do with the damn thing when i've filled up the last page?

    in my early years when i was full of angst and everything was oh so precious, i kept them. all of them. i hauled them from apartment to apartment, house to house. over time some began to smell like mildew. the spirals rusted. the metal paperclips rusted and left redish-brown outlines on the page. i put them in three empty boxes from the package store and put them in the basement.

    a decade later, i said to a friend at the time, " i've pretty much given up on the idea of being a famous writer, what do people do with these things?"

    "Well, if you burn them, your thoughts will enter the air and no longer be part of you. you will let them go on, to become part of all things. if you bury them, they will continue to be thoughts or ideas for you to consider."

    lucky for me it was summer and i owned my house. and it wasn't in the suburbs. and we'd had plenty of rain.

    so i lugged the boxes out, dug a hole a couple of feet deep on one side of me and a shallow fire pit on the other. and for awhile, i read or skimmed every page of every notebook. i tossed pages into the hole or into the pit. i jotted down those things that called out to be saved. the total words and phrases fit on two sheets of white paper. i laughed over my foolishness. i saw that i wrote about the same things over and over. i cried over my foolishness. by the end of a few hours i tossed whole journals into the pit. i covered the almost full hole and lit the fire. i thought, "there has GOT to be a better way"

    years later, along came the shredder. there were no words of wisdom in the "how to" booklet, just mostly warnings in bold type. so, here's what i'm thinking; i'm old enough to have inside me all i need to say. i just need to constantly change my focus. shredding my journals after i skim them over (yes, i'm still looking for those gems!), is like tossing words up in the air and imagining them floating back down into me, waiting for a new way to be put together.
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