I sometimes write my personal essays and journal entries with the understanding that I’m going to re-read them in the future; therefore, I try to write about what I wish to do or hope to become as a way to force myself to do those things. For example, when I first started to journal seriously six years ago, I wrote a lot about my weight and diet. I didn’t like how I looked or felt about myself, and I remember re-reading some of those entries a year or two later and still feeling the same. Eventually I decided that enough was enough and I forced myself to lose the weight and to eat better, and now I’ve never felt or looked better in my life. I’ve written about my lack of a dating life, my wish to become a better writer, and my relentless pursuit to be better. By writing all this down, I hope to set the proper gears in motion wherein I execute everything I want to accomplish.

In an effort to become a better writer, I’m trying to become a better reader. Last week, I began to read Don Quixote. We all know the story of Don Quixote, but one thing I didn’t know before I started reading it was that it was written by a narrator who’s retelling the stories he’s picked up from random books of Don Quixote, who in turn became a knight because of the many histories about knights and chivalry he read. It’s this modern and highly entertaining meta-narrative that was written back in the 1500s that I’m falling in love with. It was this meta-narrative that sparked the thought that eventually produced the opening paragraph of this entry.

Am I living inside a narrative world of my own creation? I don’t mean it to seem as ostentatious or as grandiose as it sounds, but I’m interested in this thought because it makes me reconsider and rethink the whole purpose of journaling, which is what these personal essays are, in the end. Am a journaling to improve myself? Or am I journaling as a cathartic experience, as a way to get everything out of me? I don’t think one answer is more right or wrong than the other, but I believe it’s both because I don’t think I can have one without the other. The only way to improve myself is to expel all my thoughts and emotions into words, and by doing all that, I’m improving myself.

Now that I know this, though, am I going to start writing about all my desires and wishes since I know that by writing it all I have a good chance I’ll execute in all of them? Since I don’t want to find out, I’m not going to do that. Like I wrote about a few days ago, I believe limits help me thrive, and by limiting my entries to just a few desires, then I might have a better time focusing on them and actually executing them well.

Don Quixote went all in1. I should, too.

  1. Granted, I’m not even close to finishing the book, so who knows what happens later.