“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
As I recall, Socrates said this at his trial for heresy. Socrates was on trial for encouraging his students to challenge the accepted beliefs of their day and instead think for themselves.
Fast forward to 2010.
The alarm clock rings. It is the beginning of a new day. Off to work.
1. I do this.
2. I do that.
3. Time for lunch.
4. After lunch, I do this.
5. Then, I do that.
6. Time to go home.
The alarm clock rings. Repeat 1-9.
Is this a life?
I think Socrates is right. “The unexamined life is not worth living.” After all, life is more than existing through the days/weeks/months/years. LIfe has meaning and the center for that meaning is the soul.
So how does a person use the disciplines to nurture the soul?
One tool that I have used for a long time is a journal. At this moment, I am sitting at my desk at home. To my left is a bookshelf. On the top shelf, there are about thirteen used journals. Most of them are either black or dark blue in color. One is tan. These thirteen journals are full of insights, memories, reflections and stories. There are no blank pages. For many years, I have recorded my thoughts usually three to four times a week. There is a suitcase in our garage full of these used journals from earlier years.
The following are some ways that journaling has been helpful in tending my soul:
1. Writing in my journal has enabled me to process and evaluate my day in light of my purpose for living. For example, reflecting in my journal gives me the opportunity to examine the way I handled conversations with people or perhaps a delicate situation.
2. Writing in my journal has helped me become aware of my real thoughts. Sometimes I am amazed at what comes out when I am writing. At times, thoughts and motives are expressed on paper that I really wasn’t conscious of having.
3. Writing in my journal has given me a forum for being honest with myself and with God. I find that so often my prayers are far more honest and candid when I write down what I am praying. My prayer also becomes more specific and focused.
4. Writing in my journal has given me a place to record insights, quotes, and stories that I hear or read. Often it is the place where I record significant lines or paragraphs from my reading.
I am not suggesting that you absolutely need to be journaling. I am saying that there is great value in having a discipline that calls for you to pause and examine your life. There is something valuable about reflecting on how you are living in light of your purpose.
Do you journal? Do you ever process your life through your writing? What has been your experience with this?