I haven’t written much on this Journal blog recently, and I have even wondered whether to keep going with it. But I have been reminded of the worth of journal writing and diary keeping recently by my cousin-in-law Wendy and her blog transcribing the diaries of a Victorian gardener Thomas Ruddy. https://wendcarey.wordpress.com/
The blog is a labour of love for her, and provides us with a fascinating insight into a life lived in a different way to mine, and yet not so long ago. The glimpses of another place and time would not have been possible without the faithful journaling of Thomas. And also, in recent postings, we have seen how his diaries have interwoven with those of royalty, when Queen Victoria stayed at Palé Hall, visited his gardens, inspected his fossil collection and ate his peaches! He describes her desire for him to take cuttings from the sprigs of myrtle which are in her bouquet, in memory of Albert. And Victoria in turn records in her diaries the anniversary of Albert’s death during her visit. Read more here. Photos from Wendy’s blog.
How is any of this relevant to us today I ask myself? Why do we bother to write diaries, journals, blogs and post on Facebook? Many would say it is because we write to make sense of things, we create narrative to explore the meanings of our lives, and to make connections with others. In Victorian times journals were perhaps more descriptive than emotional. In the 20th century journals became more personal and reflective, narrating inner journeys.
Thomas’s descriptions of Queen Victoria in his journals, her accounts of her visit to Palé Hall in her diaries, and our own narratives in whatever form, illustrate our common humanity. Whether we are reading the everyday stories of gardeners or monarchs, from what ever century, the common threads appear. Stories of the continuity of life, growth, bearing fruit and facing death. Our delight in the seasons of flowering and harvest, our wonder at incomprehensible time scales, and the pain of endings. So perhaps I will keep up the tradition with my daily 10 minute journaling, blogging and enjoying the garden after all!