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Cover image for Ongoingness : the end of a diaryMuch has been written about Sarah Manguso’s new book: Ongoingness: The End of a Diary. After keeping a diary for 25 years, wouldn’t you find it hard to stop? Yet, Ongoingness is a small essay collection, at less than 100 pages, that considers the essence of finding meaning amid the noise of life.

For the author, journaling became a spiritual practice, giving more meaning to her events in the present, and more opportunity to reflect on the past. Manguso felt the writing was essential because she could not think of another way to avoid getting lost in time. As a New York Times essay by Michelle Orange (5/24/15) states, perhaps Manguso’s diary was a way to extract from life some persuasive hedge against death. The book’s overview states it is a “spare, meditative work that stands in stark contrast to the volubility of the diary–it is a haunting account of mortality and impermanence, of how we struggle to find clarity in the chaos of time that rushes around and over and through us.”

paperpenFor many of us, journaling is an essential part of our lives and a trusted companion when thinking about good times and bad. For many travelers, myself included, the best journal writing comes about while traveling. Perhaps we have more time to reflect, away from our daily routine, and want to document details of our days on the road, and capture memories beyond what we can do with tweets and Instagram.

All too often, our travels seems well placed in our mind, until we fail to recall whether it was Italy or Portugal where we had a fabulous experience that is now fading from memory. Looking at a photo of an amazing bridge, we wonder if it was in Barcelona or Portugal. Travel journals, well written, allow you to bring back the experiences of your trip, to ensure you bring home more than fleeting memories. Over time, the only events and impressions of the world that can return home with us are those in our journals. There they can augment memories that fade, and reawaken the pressing urge to travel again and again.

Write where you are,