Personal Journals Can Bring Joy to the Autobiographer As Well As the Readers

Last weekend I was visiting an old friend who had moved up into the mountains and built himself an incredibly beautiful mansion. He is one of those interestingly successful men that decided college was not the route for him. Working extremely hard in the insurance business, he toiled his way into entertainment journal a substantial amount of residual income. He always had a love for animals, the west, the mountains, and one day had a dream to build himself a mountain retreat. Raising a large family of seven children did not keep him from the goal of retiring to his mountain estate. We lived on the other side of the fence from him and his family for a number of years. He would often talk about the land he had in the mountains where he would realize his dream. So, it was fun to visit him on his mountain estate complete with pool, barn, animals, pond, greenhouses, mini ski lift, mini cowboy town, and many more things to amuse and entertain the soul.

As we sat visiting in his spacious, uniquely decorated office, he handed me a few pages of his life story. He had spent the last few months reading through his journals and creating from them his autobiography. Assuming it was like most life stories, I wasn’t really interested in its contents just then. However, as he and my husband visited about a number of things, my eyes wandered to the lines on the page in hand. Hmm, this is fascinating, I thought as I read along. Surely this couldn’t really be his life? And he was very good with words – something I had not expected. The story line was very entertaining and captured my attention immediately.

I couldn’t help asking a few questions. Where did he learn to write? Did these things really happen to him? Some of them were just plain funny. After a wide grin and a chuckle, he admitted that he had put his own twist on his life story. What? How can you call it your life story if it isn’t accurate? His reply was that he wanted to spice it up and thought it would be fun to add a little more drama here and there.

I had to laugh. How would his kids know what really happened and what didn’t? Although many of them had expressed dismay at having to sort out the truth from the fiction, he wasn’t too worried about that. It was as if he had decided to make of his life – historical fiction. What a novel idea. I still don’t know if I think he ought to have approached it that way, but it isn’t my story to tell.

My point in writing this is, he was having a great time writing his memories, even if they were part fiction. His children anxiously awaited the continuation of his story. It brought him more feedback and interaction with his family than he had enjoyed in a long time. It was very therapeutic for him, and it was well worth reading. I asked him if he was going to print a companion book which separated out the truth from the fiction. He hadn’t thought about doing that. It just shows you the difference in people, most of us just couldn’t leave something like that to posterity without a disclaimer.

I was fascinated by the joy he was getting out of the whole process and decided that we all have a story to tell. Our lives are rich with experience and meaning. If you think you may ever want to write your memoirs – you ought to be keeping a personal journal now. Perhaps at some future time, you and your posterity will find joy and entertainment in the telling of your story.

 

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