Have you ever noticed that we often refer to Marcus Aurelius just as Marcus? You likely read those references without breaking stride. Because you, like us, feel connected to Marcus. So much so that there’s a vivid picture of him painted in your head. So much so that you could describe Marcus more thoroughly than you can most co-workers, or clients, or friends, even. Isn’t it incredible to feel like you’re on a first name basis with a Roman Emperor who lived more than two thousand years ago?
Why is this? How could we possibly feel we know someone who lived and died two thousand years ago more than those we physically interact with? It’s because of how well he knew himself, and the familiarity that comes through when you read Meditations.
If you have a journaling practice, you no doubt would agree that the contents of your journals are a fuller, more thorough reflection of you than you. It’s truly a bizarre thing. You learn about yourself when you write in them or read old entries. You discover what you believe, you recognize patterns in your thinking, you gain clarity on the things you care about. The author Christina Baldwin once described journal writing as “a voyage to the interior.” Beautiful. Marcus took that voyage and now we benefit from it. Now we learn from it. And now the question is whether you are journaling and taking that voyage inside yourself, to the far reaches of your own interior? Because if you aren’t journaling, if you aren’t taking the interior voyage, if you aren’t exploring who you are and what you believe, how is anyone, even you, supposed to discover who you are and what you believe?
The people you respect and admire? The people who seem to be so self-aware, so in touch with themselves? The chances that they keep a journaling practice is nearly a guarantee. Not only because the list of known journalers throughout history is comically long—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Virginia Woolf, Joan Didion, John Steinbeck, Sylvia Plath, Anaïs Nin, Martina Navratilova, and Ben Franklin—just to name a few, but because it’s impossible to become so without taking that interior voyage. That’s what the greats realized. That’s why they journaled. It wasn’t to be immortalized in history. It wasn’t to produce Nobel Prize-worthy prose. It wasn’t so other people might learn who they were. No, it was so they themselves might learn who they are. What are you waiting for? Take the interior voyage.
If you haven’t already made journaling a part of your daily routine or if you’ve journaled in the past and fallen out of practice, we created the ultimate guide to journaling that will tell you everything you need to know to help you make journaling one of the best things you do every day. And for an easy place to start, The Daily Stoic Journal is built around the Stoic journaling methods of Marcus Aurelius and Seneca.