Journaling—about events, daily minutiae, thoughts, memories, snippets of conversation, pictures, quotes, actually anything you come across that strikes a chord within—increases and expands your awareness of the messages life is putting in your path for you to discover, savor, muse over, and perhaps even act upon.
Acting on Impression
On March 26, my granddaughter insisted on watching The Iron Giant (1999). Its theme is first conveyed by beatnik Dean McCoppin. Commenting on nine-year-old Hogarth’s story of being bullied by other kids, Dean tells him, “Who cares what these creeps think, you know? They don’t decide who you are. You do. You are who you choose to be. . .” This same wisdom is passed on by Hogarth when he tells the Iron Giant, “You are what you choose to be. You choose. Choose.” Impressive. That evening, I took my husband’s Iron Giant figurine, snapped a photo of it, and stuck it on my blank journal cover.
Two days later, I came across and recorded in my journal:
- “Write about what really interests you, whether or not it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else.” —C. S. Lewis, author
Great quote, I thought, tucking it away for future use with clients. Then this came across my path:
- “I’m constantly jumping off cliffs and developing wings on the way down. . . . You are who you choose to be.” —Shia LaBeouf, actor/director (emphasis added)
Well, that’s freaky, I thought to myself. That was The Iron Giant theme. But what’s its connection to the C. S. Lewis quote? Prompted by my intuition, I journaled The Iron Giant dialogue about choosing.
Noting Recurring Chords
That afternoon, another “chord” struck—bong!:
- “I believe God embedded the miraculous in the ordinary and it is our task to discover it and celebrate it.” —Kent Nerburn, author
Isn’t that the truth, I thought, my pen whisking across the pages of my journal. Yet what are these quotes, which are miraculously coming across my path, trying to tell me? What do they mean to me specifically?
Soon afterward, my phone beeped to notify me that someone had just accepted my invitation on LinkedIn. That’s when I noticed the following statement on the bottom of the acceptance:
- “We periodically sync and store your contacts to help you and others connect. You choose who to connect to and who to invite.” —LinkedIn (emphasis added)
Bong! Surging with excitement, I journaled the LinkedIn note. About thirty minutes later—bong!—I recorded this from a course I was in the midst of taking:
- “Things may not always go our way, but we can choose how we see our world and make it a better place because of who we choose to be.”—Shawn Achor, author and speaker (emphasis added)
Coincidence? Perhaps. Some might even call it serendipity. But to me, the culmination of these quotes that came across my path verifies the idea that we’re given messages throughout our days, our lives, in a myriad of ways. And journaling is an essential tool in not only becoming aware of these messages but, in our recording of them, probing their connection and identifying their pattern, observing their power (in recurrence), and perhaps uncovering their meaning—to us as individuals and perhaps to the world at large.
Receiving the Message: You Choose
The message I received on March 28, 2016, and that I’m passing on to you is this: You have the power to choose—who and what you will be, with whom will you connect, and what you will write, regardless of the inner and outer critics or bullies. After all, “Who cares what these creeps think of you [or of what you write], you know? They don’t decide who you are. You do. You are who you choose to be.”
Choose to be a listener, a recorder of the ordinary, and, in the process, a discoverer of the miraculous. Take note of those recurring themes. Allow them to guide you, to lead you to discover what really interests you, what is calling you to pick up your pen. What is that one thing you’re passionate about writing—regardless of inner and outer critics or bullies? What next cliff will you leap off of as you develop new writing wings on the way down?
All these messages, if paid attention to, if examined, if heeded, will lead you. It will begin slowly, at first. But the more you open your eyes and ears, the more you journal, the more you will become aware. And the more you’ll discover the miraculous in the ordinary, begin celebrating the revelations brought to the fore, and find the power to fuel your passion and purpose, not only in writing, but in every area of your life.