Tuesday, January 12, 2016


"I found her diary underneath a tree and started reading about me." There goes the line of a song by the group called "Bread." What is now oftentimes called a "journal" used to be called a diary.

According to an 18th century Scottish historical novelist, playwright and poet with many contemporary readers in Europe, Australia, and North America named Walter Scott, a diary as a rule is "a document useful to the person who keeps it, dull to the contemporary who reads it and invaluable to the student, centuries afterwards, who treasures it." I don't know if our very own hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, an avid diary writer and keeper, had read that because his diaries were treasures from which we have gleaned most of what we know about him now.

I started keeping a diary when I was in third grade. I would jot down events of the day in a small notebook with dates in it. Most of them were either one-line scribbles or 2-line notes. I regret not having kept those though because I would’ve loved to see how I thought as a child. I don’t know what prompted me to burn them when I went away to college. I thought I would have no use for them anymore. I dismissed them as mere childish writings. I was wrong.

Now I will never know how I felt when I had my first crush or perhaps my first innocent heart ache. I will never know how I thought or felt about the people and things around me, at home and in school. Although I remember snippets of my childhood, it would have been better to see them in writing.

I taught my daughter to write in her own diary when she was in first grade. Every summer I would ask her to write something about her day and I would check her entries for grammatical errors. I would like to think that was the start of her love for writing. Until now, she keeps a diary and it seems such an invaluable companion to her.

I still do keep one myself. I love notebooks and I love writing in them. For me, there’s nothing more satisfying than writing on a smooth lined surface which sometimes smell of jasmine or rose. It’s also my way of practicing my penmanship because it’s something that is becoming a lost art in this age of gadgets.

A diary may be an account of your daily activities. But it may as well be a record of your innermost thoughts and feelings which you cannot express to someone. We all have those; some would just keep them in their minds, others find it therapeutic to write them down.

A diary is like an umbrella that shields you when it rains. It brings you to a time when you felt as if you could actually touch happiness with your bare hands. And you feel good about yourself. It may be a reminder of a bitter experience or a sad situation. It may be a tablet on which lessons are learned the hard way.

It is also like a hankie that washes off tears. It's comforting. It's soothing. It's like a friend which just "listens", never judging, never condemning, never berating. It’s where you can write the drama of your life without anyone raising an eyebrow about it. Some diaries may contain secrets which may perhaps find their way into the wrong hands if not kept securely.

No matter how the diary is kept, whether in a word processor protected by a password or a beautifully bound notebook with its own lock and key, a diary will always be a valuable companion. It is a best friend.

In the end, this is what's important: "Live your life so you don’t have to hide your diary." ~ Unknown

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