I mentioned in Wednesday’s post that I’m moving to the East Coast. It’s a big move and an excellent time for purging. Of course I’m going through my journal collection and having the internal debate – keep or toss? If I keep I’m actually paying to move it, and paying a premium. The gifts are easy – keep. The new ones I bought myself are sort of easy – any duplicates can be given away or donated. And then there’s the finished ones, and the half finished ones. Not so easy.

I love looking at the shelf of finished journals. It feels good, like I’ve accomplished something. On occasion I will look through them and remember, and smile. I have one journal, though, that was indispensable to me during an incredibly difficult time in my life. It’s a chronicle of the journey from one side of pain to the other. I can look back on it now, objectively, and see what an incredible gift of growth that time was. Reading my journal entries during that time is difficult. Keep or toss?

I googled and found this post on unclutterer.com, where the author says the key to deciding on whether to toss or keep is to ask yourself: Why did I write? Essentially if the answer is positive (you wanted to record a special event or a happy time or even just as a daily record of a period of time) keep them. If the answer is negative (you had to work through problems or frustrations, or you were struggling with a negative situation in your life) toss them. And not just toss – burn them and don’t look back.

I also searched this very blog and found this post from October 2013, from which I quoted:

There are historians. There are burners. I’d never advise on journal-burning matters. But I can tell you this: Traveling lighter helps me shine brighter.

The quote is from Danielle Laporte’s article on why she burned her journals to celebrate her insignificance. I’d totally forgotten about that piece. I find myself agreeing with her even more as I survey my tottering pile.

So by these measures I should toss my “problem” journal. I’m blessed in the fact that I haven’t needed it in a long time; sure my daily journals record frustrations and anger, but nothing like the anguish and despair I went through that year, when I needed professional help to navigate the choppy waters of my emotions. Arguably it’s the most “real” I’ve ever been; probably some of my best writing. I honour the person I was during that time, as without her I wouldn’t be me today.

So I will burn that journal, and remember. And smile.