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Living With A Diary
by Tim Murray

 

 

 

Editor´s Note from Karen Adler: I met Tim Murray at breakfast after the exhibition opening of some friends. He noticed that I was scribbling away in my visual diary and that I was writing rather than drawing. A conversation on the practice of keeping a diary ensued. I mentioned that, as an art therapist - my business name is The Journey Journal - I link journalling with the journey archetype and see the combination of the two as being a perfect match. This article is Tim's simple, eloquent and heartfelt testimony of what keeping a diary has given him in his life.

 

I have just finished writing Book 92 of my diary and it now sits on the shelf in my study joining about two metres of similar volumes! They may never be opened again and that really doesn’t matter. The process is the thing.

I started keeping a diary (apart from all those January false starts) on the first day of the last year of my working life thinking that it would be interesting to have a record of my experiences, thoughts and feelings over the complete cycle of a school year. I was Head of quite a large school at the time. By the end of the year I was hooked and I’ve been keeping a diary ever since – more than 15 years.

From time to time I revisit the diary and process words on various themes that have interested me and I share these with long-suffering family and friends, self-publishing with the assistance of Officeworks.

For example, extracts from the day’s reading – books, newspapers, computer and other sources – often find their way into my diary. Late in 2008 I made a selection for an Anthology – a selection from the writings of others chosen for their wit or wisdom, beauty or special significance and which I recorded during the first decade of my retirement, 1998 – 2008. Somehow you make the words your own when you write them down.

Another volume I put together I called Connections 2009 – No Man is an Island. In the Introduction I wrote the following:

“On New Year’s Day 2009 I read the obituary of William Ellis Green in The Age. When I realised that the man I was reading about was WEG, the famous cartoonist, I felt a sense of connection that went back more than 50 years. It then occurred to me that in the course of the year in which I was to turn 74 I was likely to find all sorts of fascinating links with people whose lives were being celebrated in this way, and so I had the idea for Connections – 2009. John Donne’s famous Meditation immediately came to mind. I did not want to dwell on the tolling bell and being diminished by each man’s death. Rather I was much more conscious of being enriched by each person’s life. And so this volume began to take shape. The process has been a fascinating one and has lent a unique dimension to the start of every day. Sometimes, of course, I saw no obvious connections but it is extraordinary how often the connections were there – connections of friendship, common background, shared experience, mutual interests, sources of influence and inspiration. The process has highlighted how much my life has been touched by the lives of others and how much I owe to people that, in many cases, I have never met or have not known well. It has been an enlightening and enlivening experience.”

Recently I compiled a volume which I called Fine thank you, and you? My wife’s response to ‘How are you?’ was almost always ‘Fine thank you, and you?’ Occasionally when she was feeling in desperate pain it would be ‘a bit ordinary today.’ How she contended with all she had to bear I simply don’t know. Certainly courage and serenity and a total lack of self-pity and a hugely positive attitude and an ‘optimistic realism’ and a stoicism and a fierce independence were all part of the mix. Naturally I wrote about her often in my diary and I extracted many of these references in the context of her illness over the last two years of her life. I did not find the editing process painful. Rather I found it inspiring. It was not painful because she was not suffering any more. The pain was over. What we were left with was the wonderfully positive legacy of her character and spirit.

So my diary has been a key part of my life for the last 15 years. Not only has it been a focus for reflection day by day but it has also provided a longer term perspective on themes that have been important in my life. It ‘s part of my journey and we enjoy travelling together. When my journey is over my journal will have served its purpose and it can rest in peace!

 

 

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About the Author
 
Tim Murray is a retired teacher and headmaster. He has been keeping a diary for more than fifteen years now. This practice has enriched his life and has helped him through difficult life transitions.
 


 

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