We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
—T.S. Eliot. “Little Gidding.” Four Quartets.
“To know the place for the first time” haunted me. I didn’t know where I read the words or heard them. I didn’t know who wrote or said them. How they found their way into my memory remains a mystery. They took up silent residency until they were needed. Roused from their slumber, the words clamored into my consciousness. I launched a search for their source. With that fragment and the magic of Google, I found T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets.
I’ve kept a journal for over thirty years. I recall struggling in the beginning to make the journal relevant. After several attempts, I created a persona to whom I wrote letters. John was wise and unconditionally loving, exhibiting the personal characteristics to which I aspired. I poured out my soul to him.
Four years into journal keeping, I came across Tristine Rainer’s The New Diary in which she talks about deciding on an audience to whom the journal is addressed. Rainer suggests that the audience should be the person the writer will become at some time in the future—a future self. It pleased me that John met Rainer’s criteria and that I created him intuitively.
Journaling is an exploration, a journey of self discovery accomplished through writing. The journey of self discovery is a cycle. The self, multi-layered and multifaceted, is discovered in stages or in waves of awareness. I discover myself at a particular level and then the journey of self discovery begins anew. The end of exploration is to know myself at a new level of awareness for the first time.
Having put my pen to the page, it is not possible to cease from exploration.