Jan. 27th, 2011

sakurablossom: girl laying in bed while reading a book, comfy (reading)
[personal profile] sakurablossom
An Idea Catches On

Once people had the tools - paper and ink - and the knowledge, they began recording all kinds of things. Of course, rulers liked the idea of a daily chronicle of their reign, but it didn't stop there. Doctors recorded information about their cases, particularly their "cures" and frustrations, as a way to pass on hard-earned knowledge to physicians who came after them.

Carpenters and architects kept scrolls of drawings in which they recorded new designs and the progress of long-running projects. A large structure might take 100 years to complete. It simply would not do for the architect to die without leaving a record behind to guide the next person on the job. Each generation of architects studied the drawings of those who went before, continued plans, modified them, improved upon them. Great new strides in the art and science of building great structures such as cathedrals were possible because of this marvelous means of passing on information. Without it, Notre Dame in Paris might not have the magnificent flying buttresses for which it is so renowned.

Merchants also kept daily records of transaction. They tracked expenses, income, and inventory to run their business more efficiently and profitably. Without such a system, we might never have the system of bookkeeping presently in place, or the banking system, or the stock market of today. The list goes on with each profession utilizing some type of journal for a different purpose, and each one took the idea to heart because it provided so many benefits. And then a new use for the journal came on the scene and, with it, a new articulation of what it meant to be human.

Start observing people, places, and things around you more carefully. Then, for fun, try to predict the behavior of people you know or the outcome of events you witness.

From the Soul

St. Augustine of Hippo, born in A.D. 396, left us one of the best-known journals in the world. As a young man, he led a carefree life of easy money, easy women, lots of wine, and even more gambling. Then God touched his soul, and he changed his life dramatically.

Leaving his old life behind, he became a priest of the Catholic Church and rose to become bishop of Hippo, present-day Algeria. But the changes did not come easily. He struggled almost daily with temptation and strove for holiness. During that struggle, he learned much about himself and related the story of his spiritual awakening and development in his autobiographical journal called Confessions.

In Confessions, St. Augustine analyzed himself much as any modern-day psychiatrist would. Those who read his work have found the study of self fascinating, and it has become the basis for the reflective journal that so many of us find useful in our own lives.


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