Burnning Notebooks as Therapy
For many people, the purpose of journaling is a sort of catharsis. With pen on paper, they are able to work through problems and issues. These problems are overcome simply by allowing time to process these tribulations enough to form sentences about them. I too use writing for this purpose. However, I often do not allow writing to be the last step in my emotional eradication.
I was seventeen the first time I held a match to a completed page, but lighting the fire is the last step. Before a notebook can be burned, it must first be filled; this isn't an easy task. A Mead composition notebook contains one hundred sheets--or two hundred pages. The goal in essence is to write. As each word flows onto the paper through the pen, some event must set the precedent; be it long narrations of break-ups or pained descriptions of breakdowns, copious amounts of material must pave the way--the emotionally passive life cannot be translated onto paper. However, for those who can complete the task, the reward comes when the back cover is closed. It is then that the notebook can smolder, and, in the smoke of those burning college-ruled pages, my writing finds its purpose.
It has been far too long since I have burned a notebook. How long have I been filling new pages, front and back, waiting to turn them into ash? When was the last time I coughed as I looked over my flaming longhand? Months, years even, have passed since I have filled a last page, read through my ramblings one last time, and lit a match. Writing has long been my release, my form of purging. With pen in hand-- I only use pen--I have often attended my solitary therapy sessions. If writing is my release, then burning my writing is my closure. There is something comforting in seeing a tattered notebook turn to dust and waft away in the wind, confirming that everything is temporary, even words written in ink.
After months of writing, I have never been able to close a full notebook and burn it in the same day; I must first re-read everything that I have written. With painstaking attention and analysis, I examine every word. Over a number of days, I study the record of my...