A Writer’s Journey

Reflecting back over the years of my life now has taken on a wholly different character and sense of urgency. Each time I sit down to write these days, I am reminded by all of the objects surrounding me that the accumulation of years has also resulted in an enormous accumulation of memories and souvenirs of the many experiences of my life.

There was a prolonged period when I barely had even the shortest amount of time for such reminiscing, and I told myself over and over that the objects and documents and articles that I set aside would one day be a rich resource for writing about the times of my life. 

It seemed urgent to take this approach at that time since there were so few opportunities to review the important aspects of my experience of life. I feared I might lose the thread that would lead me back through the labyrinth of time when I finally was able to withdraw from the relentless burden of obligation to generate income.


Even now, as I type these words, I am still not entirely certain that my intention to review the important objects which surround me will result in a sufficiently satisfying conclusion that will allow me to let go of them.  There are so many thoughts all jumbled up in my mind already—the flood of a lifetime of thoughts and memories often seems to overwhelm me—even as I attempt to organize them and convert them into some sort of coherent expression.

My online blog, “John’s Consciousness,” began as an earnest effort to begin to formulate the foundation of a much larger work.  While my current life is finally less crammed with the immediacy of unavoidable daily tasks for the most part, the daunting volume and immensity of the accumulated objects and documents weighs heavily on me. 

At first it seemed to me that all the efforts at preservation were primarily for my own benefit, and while I wasn’t certain about the specific motivation being employed at every moment, in the back of my mind, I supposed that the why and the wherefore would become evident upon review at some later time.

Looking back now over decades, there were many instances when I was either forced to choose a path at a crossroad or when I had to make a conscious, deliberate choice as I approached a crossroad, when I also found myself wondering if I was making the right choice. We cannot know with certainty, at any given moment, the full range of consequences which might ensue when making such choices, and we must often rely on some intuitive or instinctive inclination.  The perspective of time is needed to compare our achievements with whatever hard lessons may have resulted, in order to evaluate our current circumstance. Even though those hard lessons may have subsequently resulted in some benefit, it may not be sufficient to mitigate regrets.

Recent events and current circumstances have pressed me to reflect with much greater intensity on the balance of the costs versus the benefits, and it seems to me that there has been a reasonably fair balance between them.  We cannot reverse time nor can we untangle whatever confusion or uncertainty governed the circumstances surrounding any choice made in the swirling maelstrom of the past, but this acknowledgement hasn’t yet dissuaded me from meandering from time to time through the perennial realm of what might have been, or its close companion—what still might be possible.

Dwelling on anxiety over what might have been isn’t especially helpful, but traversing the road leading to what still might be possible is no cakewalk either. Whenever we project ourselves forward into the realm of what might still be possible, we are often limited by what we have already experienced as a starting point, so we must be able to somehow suspend our expectations based on previous experience in order to move forward.  What we sometimes describe as “thinking outside the box,” may provide the necessary degree of difference in our thought process, but it also requires an additional degree of willingness to venture outside of our comfort zone in important ways.  Such measures also require a degree of courage in treading a path previously untried.

In all of my deliberations thus far, I have steadfastly applied a deliberate effort to forge a new approach to the path forward, and aside from helping me to recognize just how difficult it can be to move ahead in this way, it has been suggested by my experience that failure is one of the best teachers, as well as an absolutely necessary component of any true success, which eventually appears when we make an earnest effort to forge ahead.

In the weeks to come I will be reviewing some of the components and accumulated memories, stories, documents and objects that I retained as souvenirs which surround me in my writing space, as I attempt to sort through them and decide which of them to keep and which of them I can safely let go.

Hopefully, in the process, my readers and visitors might find some benefit for themselves from following along with my struggle to sort it all out. As I happen upon important topics suggested by this review, I may veer off the beaten path for a bit to elaborate and/or mitigate the process, just to keep it interesting.

Looking forward to sharing this part of what continues to be a challenging journey with you all…..John H

2 thoughts on “A Writer’s Journey

  1. “A new approach to the path forward”

    Intriguing. I look forward to hearing more. I believe that one’s latest views are probably more important than things one did or thought or believed decades ago. For such reason, I keep very little by way of mementoes from my past life. I do not like old photos or letters and while I have my memories, I try not to dwell on them or think back too often.

    As you have said, agonizing over past actions, thoughts, speech or decisions is not terribly helpful and I prefer in my neo Buddhist way to live in the now.

    Every day I try to view the path forward and to discover new and unexplored routes and avenues. No doubt I will continue to make mistakes but at least these days I am almost instantly aware when I have made a mistake. And my mistakes are legion.

    Mysticism or practical nirvana, where should I head and what should I do. Am I really in search of ultimate reality or merely a life with less anxiety and more happiness? Possibly the latter although I do not believe these aims are mutually exclusive or should necessarily exclude each other.

    I mustn’t ramble. I really just wanted to say “good for you, I hear what you are saying and I look forward to following you on your continued journey”.

    With all good wishes

    1. Anthony,

      Your remarks give me a sense of having achieved some degree of success in presenting my intention to prompt those who visit here to give some attention to their own path and to reflect on what is most important to each of them. This recent review process has been helpful to me in trying to figure out how to make the best use of the time remaining for me as someone who writes and ponders the questions raised by my experience of life.

      I also agree with you that we ought not to spend too much time dwelling on our memories and looking back. In my case, most of the mementos from my past life were retained as a means of assisting my memory sufficiently to write about my experiences now that I actually have the time.

      When my mother passed away years ago, I inherited the family photo archive, and it was her wish that I manage it a bit, preserving the most important parts for the next generation. Whenever an occasion comes up now where a photo is needed or requested, I can generally provide an image that suits the occasion. Combined with my own collection, which includes the professional work I did as a photographer in the 1980’s, as well as the family photos from the years I worked as a photographer, and those from raising my own children, it’s become a labor of love to review and edit as the need arises.

      I love reading about the lives of the figures from history, literature, spirituality, and especially the lives of writers who I admire. These offerings almost always include letters exchanged between other important artists, writers, and family members, and I have preserved quite a few of my own in the interest of constructing my own offering one day. I am currently reading about the contentious friendship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, and those two exchanged 158 letters over 14 years! What a treasure trove of knowledge and history that correspondence produced!

      Thomas Jefferson himself wrote over 20,000 letters in his lifetime and wrote…”If you want to understand my life, read the letters I received and the letters I wrote!”

      Reviewing correspondence like that is not for everyone admittedly, but these days letters are so rarely written that it may one day disappear completely. Our blogs are probably the closest comparable writing source for the modern writer, and who knows how long they will be around?

      Here’s hoping my continuing journey contributes something useful to others in the years to come! -John H.

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