I believe in the power of a journal. No matter what you tell it, it will never leave you. Even when in stressful situations, it can bring peace. It can bring ease to the pain, relief from the weight, and sanity to the confusion. It can even be your haven if you allow it. While I was in Africa, my journal held me steadfast and strong.
In June of 2006, I set off for my long awaited adventure to Botswana, Africa. Going into this extraordinary quest I knew I wouldn’t come back with regret, or disappointment. I had set off for a one month trip and could only pack what I could carry. Limiting myself to one backpack and duffle bag, I knew I wasn’t going to keep the cleanest. My bed would be the African ground and my shelter would be a tent. I had three changes of clothes, some hiking gear, and a few American possessions so I could barter with the locals. Just in case I needed paper, I crammed my journal in the little room I had left in my pack. To my surprise that journal ended up being the only thing I treasured the whole 31 days I was gone.
Anything challenging that could happen, came stampeding in my direction. Our showering opportunities were cut down to three times that month. When living in the African wild, a shower is treasured. When this privilege was taken away, due to run down facilities, our camp reeked of odor. After a week, our skin changed from white to black, due to dust and dirt that was caked to our sweaty bodies. At least this made us more approachable; our skin now blended in with the locals.
In addition to this event, I had difficulty sleeping due to the countless mice running freely through my sleeping bag and tent. In recollection of this, I found that on one occasion I awoke to a mouse singing me a lullaby while burrowing into my pillow. To help keep my mind from the mice, halfway through my trip I was stuck with a poisonous thorn. This caused extreme burning and stinging for roughly 3 days. To make matters worse, dirt managed to submerge its way into my sore causing the healing time to last longer. Not long after this, I caught the African flu. The African flu is a lot similar to the American flu except, all the flu symptoms you can imagine hit all at once and three times as hard. I couldn’t even keep my saliva down. Because of this I was rushed into a clinic and was forced to try to communicate to the Maun, Botswana doctors, who did not speak English. In doing so I attempted to stay coherent, but this unfamiliar sickness was running through my veins. All I could seem to focus on was puking for the twelfth time and trying my hardest to make it in the bowl.
What allowed my constant sanity through it all was my journal. When I had no more tears to cry, I went to my journal. When I had no more patience left, I went to my journal. When I felt abandoned, lost, confused, dirty, and sick, well I went to my journal. My journal was the place where I could escape while not leave, and confide yet not be exposed. It was my shelter from danger, and my voice I couldn’t seem to vocally speak. My journal held me strong.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.