Last year, Theresa gave me a beautiful journal that reminded her of Stephanie. For a long time, it sat blank on my nightstand. Journaling in the way I imagined it involved writing lengthy, reflective passages. And that seemed like too much work, too much of a commitment. I wanted to use the journal for something meaningful, but I was feeling uninspired.
A few months later, browsing the shelves of a gift shop bookcase at the Cape, I noticed a journal that went along with a book by the same name: "The Happiness Project". The premise for the journal was simple: Write one sentence a day, every day, for five years. The author suggests developing this habit to compensate for the reality that time goes too fast. And, as much as we think we will remember the little intricacies of each passing day, we won't. Well, not without something that will trigger our memories... a photograph, a souvenir, or, in this case, a sentence.*
I thought about how true her words were. How, since losing my sister, I've struggled to recall specific memories. I know that we shared in so many seemingly trivial interactions and countless little adventures, but the details I long for are lost. I also thought about how my babies are growing so fast that it's hard to keep up. I know that my days are full of silly little moments, but, by the end of every sleep-deprived week, those moments have blurred together into a general sense of wonderful chaos.
It's ironic, but the small fleeting moments that are hardest to remember are actually the ones that life is about. They're the ones that you enjoy most without realizing it, the ones that you miss most once they are gone.
It was there in that gift shop that I found a purpose for my journal. I couldn't fathom writing nightly essays, but, a sentence? Even at the end of a really long day, I figured that I could manage that!
It's been 8 months since I turned my colorful peacock feather-painted journal into a makeshift "Happiness Project" journal. I don't write every night. And I usually find myself writing a few sentences as opposed to one. But it's worked! Tonight, I flipped back and smiled as little sentences triggered memories of moments that I may have forgotten otherwise. And those moments were gateways to other moments from the same day or the days surrounding it.
I know that I can't go back in time. And I know I can't record my life as it's happening so that I can rewind it ten years down the road. But I CAN write a few sentences here and there so that I can find my memories when I need them. So that I can capture as many of the fleeting moments as possible, and treasure them. Forever.
* If you're interested, here's a link to a blog entry by the author about her one-sentence journaling: http://www.gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2007/03/one_of_my_succe/