Blank pages offer possibilities | Home Again

By Joanne Peterson | Aug 28, 2014

I don’t know how many times I’ve decided to keep a journal. Nor do I know how many journals I’ve received as gifts through the years.

I think the first one appeared under the Christmas tree the year I was eight.

Having already discovered that books of any sort were wonderful, I was pleased, though puzzled, to receive a book that would not have any words in it until I wrote them.

Did I take the book as a sign? “Oh! I am going to be a writer!” No.

Years later, I found that small book among other keepsakes. Inside the cover, I had printed “Joanne Bradbury, 324 Dayton.”

I had written on two pages. The first page? A penciled list of Christmas gifts received that eighth year. The second? A smudgy sketch of the family cat, Butch. That’s it.

In a couple of years, I began producing handwritten family newspapers—one copy per issue—with colored-pencil headlines and stories with details everyone in the family already knew. (“Daddy Adds Toy Department to Western Auto Store.” “Joanne Attends Summer Day Camp.” “Mama’s Sewing Club Goes Out to Dinner.”)

My family members were kind—as always—but I am sure they wished I wouldn’t keep coming around to read aloud one more issue of Family News.

I suspect they’d have much preferred I go to my room and write in a diary.

I’m not saying that my journals through the years have gone to waste. Any sort of notebook appeals to me and always has. (I like paper!)

It’s almost as if I collect journals and notebooks, so I’m never disappointed when I receive a new one. After all, the latest journal (with the word “Dream” on the cover) could be the one that kick-starts my self-discipline, gets me on track to record at least some small happening of each day. It’s never too late to start--again. Right?

This is what usually happens when I receive a new journal: I hold it, hesitating, appreciating the pristine territory of blank pages.

Inspired, I decide this will be a journal I keep daily. This will become a volume I can revisit in a few years and marvel at the memories prompted by my neatly written paragraphs.

After I admire the cover, I turn to the fresh white pages with their crisp blue or black lines.

I leaf through, a bit awed by the wordless expanse. I stroke the silky ribbon bookmark which often comes inserted within the pages.

Oh, yes, each journal is welcome. It’s a fine new empty book, just waiting for my words. Sometimes it waits quite a while.

Well, here’s a bulletin: I’ve started over. I’ve been keeping one of my journals bedside for quite a while now.

I write in it most nights. If I miss a night or two, that’s OK. I write notes, lists, poems, prayers, quotes, funny or profound words I’ve heard from friends or strangers. I draw trees and clouds.

Perhaps I finally understand that a blank journal comes with possibilities, not requirements.



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