At nineteen I acquired my first full time job at the local dog pound. My day jobs ran the gamut from fielding complaints of little old ladies about dog packages ruining their lawns to, in my last full time work, fielding complaints of engineers and supervisors about my policy team ruining their lives. In the “busy-ness” of life I gave little thought to the teachers and mentors who had fostered my early bent toward creativity.
As a full fledged writer I developed a new appreciation for the subtle suggestions and wise words floating in my head, words that had been planted decades before. Norman Siringer comes to mind. He was my first Creative Writing teacher. I was thirteen. The sole assignment for his summer school class was to keep a journal, to observe our daily lives and comment on them. He then said magical words (at least to me) from Socrates: the unexamined life is not worth living.
The words rolled over and over in my mind all week, all month, all summer long. They rolled on through the years too. I had never considered that I could look at my life. I was too busy living it. But now I was being asked to stop, to observe, to write it down. And I did not stop at the end of the summer or fade out when the school year commenced. I am still writing that journal today.
My journal has carried me through thick and thin. It has been an unpaid therapist, a steady advisor, a sounding board, a standard and truth bearer about what it means to be me. I observe, I analyze and I write. I question not so much out of curiosity but out of the necessity to be true to myself.