Trashing the Black Notebooks

It was one thing to let go of most of my library when I moved.  It was quite another to trash the black notebooks, a collection of three-ring binders in which I kept my journal from 1965-1995. I reread each volume a few years ago in preparation for letting them go—but I wasn’t ready.  Then, this month, with just a glance at the first page of each as I snapped open the rings and moved the thick stack of lined paper from black notebook to black trash bag, I completed the job I’d set for myself.  It hurt.  I still don’t feel quite the release I hope for. But it felt like a necessary task.

Now here’s a question that intrigues me.  Why, after 1995, did my journals change dramatically?  I moved from lined paper to unlined sketchbooks and from verbal to visual entries (sketches, photos, collage, mandalas, clips from periodicals, short quotes, commentaries and notes).  Even my handwriting changed. 

True, I’d recently attended a workshop on keeping a visual journal.  Coincidentally, my sister sent me a colorful day book in which I kept notes.  More important I think were the big changes in my marriage, my career and my creative life.  I never thought of 1995 as a watershed but it was.  I have no reason to hold on to the record of the years prior.  I lived them.  They formed me.  But truth be known, I never browsed through the black notebooks like I do the visual journals. They shine a light on my path.  They continue to inspire me.  They make me smile in a way the black notebooks never did.