Looking back

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I am constantly going through my things, sifting through what I can give away, throw away, or keep.  There are always bits and pieces that somehow surprise me with a memory or a longer peek into “what used to be”.  Being very sentimental by nature, I used to find it hard to just discard or throw away things, even long after they have served their purpose in my life, or if their meaning has changed through time or by virtue of circumstance.  Letting go has never been easy for me, but several life altering  shifts that took place in the last couple of years have caused me to just do that more easily.

I am still not quite as adept at it as someone I know who will not think twice about throwing something that seems useless or nondescript.  I’ve seen pieces of projects and parts of other things go missing, only to find out later it was mistakenly thrown away.

But there are things that we need to get rid of or shed as we go through life.  Just as we shed people, we must shed things.  There just tends to be too much at some point in time and we must unburden ourselves of that load.  I am doing just that.

So I was actually looking for something else when I spied this notebook that I had used as a journal sometime in 2013, tucked somewhere in my room where I had meant to keep it hidden.  I didn’t forget about it, but I just didn’t feel the urge to write in it.  It was one of the “What do I really, really, really want?” journals.  Like millions of others who read “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, I had followed her speeches and writings and picked up this prompt to help me focus on getting some clarity at a time when I felt I was “floating” needlessly.

I have at least two of these journals, the first one, definitely ended.  I was just hoping to read through the main response, not the journal entries themselves, and maybe make a visual summary of the answers I wrote down — but that idea got shot down once I realized where I was heading at the time I wrote that in 2012.  Not worth it.  Between then and now, I not only did a complete 360, but I had jumped from one universe to another.  Still, I thought, it would be helpful to be reminded of my state of mind and heart back then, if only to go back to the lessons I learned from that experience.  Once I’m done “being reminded”, that one will be shredded and gotten rid of in full.

The main idea is to ask yourself the question — and yes, you do ask “really” three times for emphasis — and then write about the first thing that comes to mind.  And as the days go, you can go back to your answers to get a picture of what it is that you have been writing in answer to the question.  After doing two books and here about to go on a third, I have discovered it DOES work for me.  (But that’s just me.)

This second book that I have, I had written on intermittently during one of the most volatile periods in my adult life.  In many ways, it got me to where I am now.  It made me who I am now.  So this one, I believe, is worth doing a visual summary for, and maybe even worth keeping.  I haven’t quite started reading yet as I just stumbled upon the book this morning, but you can see it has sparked a different kind of inspiration within.

I have leafed through the first 5 or 6 entries to start the visual summary.  I haven’t even read the actual entries and I could hear my inner voice screaming what I wanted, and I am relieved I had actually gotten myself to get it done.  It’s a very personal reveal that I’d rather keep to myself, but suffice it to say, even without reading back, writing those thoughts and sentiments made them a reality for me.  I think I got, and am on my way to getting, that which I really, really, really want.

 

What do I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want? (Book III)

I read Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia years ago and have only read it once, but I have picked up one very important practice from reading the book.  I’ve tried to answer this question that Elizabeth Gilbert, the author, posed to her readers as an after thought to the soul-searching she chronicled in her book: “What do I really, really, really want?

I am now on my third journal and am into my fourth or fifth entry in a new notebook.  A good amount of time and many life events and decisions have passed between the journals, and even I have found the change in my answers and state of mind quite enlightening.  I know that a lot has changed between 2012 and now– both in my personal circumstances and the world in general around me, and it has been quite a journey.  It is in looking back at the answers I had written — not necessarily the journal entries per se — that I have seen such a marked difference in the way I used to think and the way I am now.

The very stark difference between what I wanted then and what I want now gives me pause to reflect on how my feelings have changed since I first started answering the question.  I had made it a point to just go over the answers and make a visual summary from time to time, but at this point, I don’t think I’m ready to read my entries in depth just yet.  I am, however, ready to continue answering the question in the “now”.

Gilbert says you have to repeat the “really” three times to stress that it has to be something you truly want — as against something you might “maybe want” or “half want.”  It must also be something spontaneous after asking the question.  This time around, I’ve taken to doing a bit of art around each entry.  Whether it is to draw a border around the page or color in the lettering of either the question or the answer, or to add some graphic I intend to fill in with color later on, each additional time soent embellishing the page gives me a chance to reflect deeper into my answer.  Sometimes the succeeding blurb is a sentence or two only.  Sometimes it fills the whole page.  Again, the key is spontaneity.

Answering the question when I write on that journal’s pages is like an ongoing essay that gets written a bit at a time with each entry.  And when I go back to read them all, I’m supposed to find my answer from the very words I’d written.