Friday, August 29, 2008

The Best of Both Worlds

Instead of doing everything I was supposed to do yesterday, this was how I spent my afternoon:

Eating chocolate and reading a great find. It's the mailman's fault! He delivered this new treasure to me, and I just couldn't possibly be expected to, say, finish that article I'm writing, or scrub the bathroom. . .

While browsing Amazon last week, I came across an old book of Carol Lynn Pearson's diary entries, Will I Ever Forget This Day? I thought I knew every book by Carol Lynn, but I had never heard of this one, so I was intrigued. I bought it used from a bookseller in Utah, who had a 'very good' copy of the first printing (and maybe only printing?) in 1980. I adore Carol Lynn Pearson. She writes like I aspire to write. She feels many of the same things I feel. She is able to put into breathtaking simplicity the sacred truths of life and motherhood and womanhood. I don't always agree with her, but I love the workings of her mind and her heart. She also feels like a link to my own mother who had books of her poetry on our bookshelves when I was a child. Sometimes I consider her to be a bridge between my mother and me, because though we differ in so many other beliefs, Carol Lynn seems to be able to span that gulf and help me see so much common ground that we still share in our woman-hearts. I almost can't even really describe what Carol Lynn Pearson means to me. Almost every poem I read makes me want to break into one of those gut-wrenching sobs. Not because it was sad, but because it was so precisely what I feel in the deepest recesses of my soul.

This particular book is right up my alley. Elouise M. Bell approached Carol Lynn after learning that this Mormon woman who had gained some notoriety from her poetry and plays, also had kept diaries from the time that she was a senior in high school. She asked if she might read through those diaries and publish excerpts from them with the intent to not only show the progress and growth of a woman who "became" someone in the public eye, but also with a very prominent goal of encouraging others to also begin to keep a personal record. Carol Lynn still is an avid diarist, and in all the years since 1956, has very rarely missed a day. At first Carol Lynn laughed at the idea, thinking it egotistical to suppose that anyone would want to read even her little accounts of daily life. But (and the letter of consent is included in the beginning of the book) she finally had a change of heart and decided it would be okay because she believes so strongly in keeping diaries that she figured if her entries could motivate others, it would have been worth any personal embarrassment. The conditions were that the entries must be from her very early years and must offer some value to the reader.

And they do. It's fascinating! "Knowing" her as I do now, it is astounding to see that the feelings and beliefs that are prominent themes in her life now began in her high school and college days. It gives hope to see that she didn't become famous overnight, but rather she felt leanings towards writing and the dramatic arts and she worked. Hard. She wanted very much to know what she should do with her life, what the Lord expected of her. She entered most every contest, poetry and prose. She tried out for most every play. In her free time she read many, many plays, and she read volumes of poetry and made a consistent effort to commit poems to memory. She was in training! Her spirit was being schooled for the magnificent mission that she would fulfill in this world. But she also had the same melodramatic heartaches and yearnings of every other teenaged girl. She didn't get asked to some dances. She, at times, gave up on men and love, only to be rekindled moments down the road. We all know the scene.

I am an avid journal keeper. I have kept a journal fairly regularly since I was four. I also keep journals for each of my children, and they keep their own as well. (I loved to discover that CLP also kept diaries for her children, which she would read from on their birthdays!) I know that as I read back on my journals I see that much of who I was when I was a child and teen, is still who I am today. I see that I had the same worries and concerns that my children now are experiencing. It gives me great compassion for them, and others, to see how much of the human experience is really all the same. I see areas in which I have matured, and others in which I still need some work. I see periods of tremendous pain and struggle, but also periods of astounding growth and progress. I see the hand of the Lord working in my life. I see the blessings that I am showered with. I see goals that I've set and accomplished, and am reminded of other dreams that I have yet to see fulfilled. I even see my writing improve (which CLP also admits. She says that one of the best tips for aspiring writers is to keep a daily diary). So, I don't know if anyone will ever want to read the volumes and volumes I have penned about my life. I don't know if I will ever "become" someone of record. But, I do feel confident that keeping a record of my life has been a blessing to me, if to no one else.

Carol Lynn Pearson and journal keeping all in one. A treasure of a book to add to my collection! And a worthwhile afternoon after all!


Saint Holiday said...

Chocolate again! On the very day I'm checking into rehab for my chocolate addiction. You're not helping. Many of my books have chocolate fingerprints on the pages from happy days of yore and even from more recent days. I really enjoy Carol Lynn Pearson's poetry. She is so sensitive and concise. Isn't it great to look back upon your past and discover your personal growth and see how the Lord has blessed you and gotten you through your trials? That's my favorite part of journal keeping. I don't think anyone will ever read my many journals either. It would be vain of me to think that any one, even a member of my own family, would want to read them. I'll probably just burn them. First cold day. I love you.
The Colonel of Truth

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Worthwhile indeed! She's just amazing, isn't she?

Wonder Woman said...

I know the name, but am not familiar with any of CLP's work. Well, I'm sure I am, but can't think of one off the top of my head. This sounds like such a great, though! And a wonderful personal hero for you.

I used to be *so* good at writing in my journal daily. Especially throughout high school and college when there was so very much going on, and lots to write about boys. :o) Not so much since getting married. My life just isn't so "dramatic," and therefore, in my mind, not good enough to write down the daily happenings.

Somewhere along the way, my journal went from being where I record what matters most to be to being a daily log of events, unfortunately. I have a journal that goes from being engaged to one man, to being married to another and having two kids. By the end I was writing frequently just so I could justify buying a new one! And I've been much better with this one - more frequent, and writing what I'm feeling, not just what I'm doing.

Sorry this has become a post of it's own. My comments always seem to have a way to do that. But I'm going to look up CLP at my library tomorrow.

Luisa Perkins said...

Ah, it's lovely to read you again!

Wonder Woman said...

So I read Goodbye, I love you. It's an amazing story. And Runaway Mother/Morning Glory Mother and loved it. Perfect Sunday reading for me when my kids can't stop destroying the house and throwing blocks at each other. =D

Thank you SO MUCH for turning me on to CLP. I'm anxious to find more of her work.

Lesley said...

Sure...blame the poor mailman! But seriously it sounds like a day well spent and a fabulous book. I'm inspired to be better about journal writing now (although when I go back and read stuff I wrote as a teen it makes me cringe--goodness!)

Sharis The Bunny said...

Hey sis!

Just stopping in to leave a friendly "hello." I love you!


Erin said...

I was just introduced to your blog by Wonder Woman (I know her name, but it has left me momentarily). I read Will I Ever Forget This Day when I was 12 years old, and I immediately started writing a journal myself, and I immediately got my hands on every piece of poetry she had ever written. I read Goodbye, I Love You three years ago, and I just last week read No More Goodbyes (her latest book). I even met her last week and got my picture taken with her (there is a pic on my blog if you want to see). I adore Carol Lynn Pearson! I wrote about a blurb in her book today on my blog, and I am telling everyone tomorrow that they have to read her book.

Sorry, I'll stop gushing now.