3 min read

Reviewing old journal entries, plus "threading"

I've been journaling for a long time, over ten years now. I suspect it's doing something, though I couldn't say exactly what. Mostly I journal about everyday situations, problems, whatever comes up. It is often helpful in the moment. However, I can't trace more than maybe one shift in my way of thinking to journaling.

I also don't review my journals much. There's way too much now to do any kind of comprehensive review: I have dozens of notebooks piled up. I could review more than I do.

I'm not entirely sold that reviewing old journals is worthwhile. I suspect it would take a lot of time, and most of it would be spent on ephemeral junk that felt important to write down at the time. The paper journals should be less of a problem that way — but on the computer I collect links like bacteria. Reviewing text takes long enough; reviewing text and links is clearly too much. And I'm not sold on the text.

What would it do just to reread the text? Nothing, right? I suppose reflection is an important part of reviewing here. But then what does the reflection do?

I suspect the thing about reflection is: You can't know how it will change you in advance. That's a thing that makes it scary.

I also worry though: How do I review? If I record the reflection part of my review — I'm generating still more text or audio which then becomes part of what's available for another review. I guess that's unavoidable. Frustrating thought.

But back on the thought of what does reflection do: It could mean adopting a different story of how I/we got here. It could change what seems important to me. It could give a sense of perspective or how far I've come. But it could also dredge up shit I thought I was done with, or remind me of habitual patterns of behavior/reactivity that I don't like — patterns I might have driven underground, rather than resolving.

Better to know? But it doesn't feel better. And to the extent those things are still around, I don't need a journal to remind me.

Maybe the review is better thought of as a prompt than a reminder. Hey, here's something you could write about, or reflect on, that you might not otherwise have thought of. It wouldn't have been at the top of your mind.

Do you have to go out of your way to find prompts like this? I guess there is a way that certain prompts tend to get buried below conscious recognition. So reviewing things may be worthwhile in that sense.

I've been wondering lately about Visakan Veerasamy's use of "threading." If you're threading fresh writing it's identical with "writing," just broken up a bit more. So the term seems to make sense mainly in the context of revisiting or connecting with older stuff. In other words: reviewing.

Visakan Veerasamy is big on journaling. He's also big on threading. A passage from Introspect (v0.9, page number 57) about both:

Here’s what I believe (and I’ve become more confident in this belief the more I talk to people, and the more reading I’ve done, and the more I’ve learned from my own journaling over time):

If you do barely anything with your life but take little notes every day – snapshots of your opinions, impressions, perspectives, predictions – and then you thread these notes over time, say, 10 years…

...by the end of it, if you reflect, review, corroborate, verify and discuss them with others, you will develop a robust, dynamic worldview. You will deeply appreciate the nature of human reality in a way that you cannot get from any single book or person or experience.

(emphasis mine)

My impression is that threading emphasizes the adding/connecting to aspect of reviewing here. I could also view it as "organizing in ordered lists." Is that it, though? Is threading just reviewing (including reflecting) plus organizing? I'm not sure.