Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Keeping a journal can change your life

I’ve kept a journal since 1961. That’s when I first met Amia Davia. She was beautiful! I felt like Dante Alighieri, walking the streets of Florence in the 13th century and meeting Beatrice Portinari. That same evening, he wrote one of the greatest love poems, “La Vita Nuova.” In it, he penned, “From that moment love governed my soul.”

The first entry in my journal recorded my meeting with Amia. I’ve never stopped writing.

When you record your first words, you begin a journey. It’s the longest journey you’ll ever take. It’s the journey to find you.

My journal is a treasury of thoughts in my life: the stories I hear, the people I meet, the quotations I like, and even the subtle signs and symbols I encounter that speak to me indirectly.

When you experience profound circumstance, it never quite leaves you. If a story touches you it stays with you, especially when you write it down.

Someone needs to tell the stories of battles fighting against the dark, and how the explorers found the New World, and how the heroes slay the dragons. The magic is in the story, and it transcends to the listener. There are many kinds of magic found in the pages of a journal.

In life, there's a story behind everything. Why does an old man have tears in his eyes when the flag goes by? Why is he missing the thumb on his right hand? Some stories are happy, and others will tear your guts out. Regardless, they lie dormant in the pages of a journal and patiently wait until once again they surface and remind us of the joyful and tragic fragility of life.

Journaling is a life-changing experience. The detailed accounting of our daily circumstance makes a difference in our lives. The experiences we encounter do not happen in a vacuum; there’s a greater purpose to what befalls us. So you write them down and use them as a future source of inspiration.

Journaling is a way of tracking the development of our consciousness; it helps us get to know ourselves.

Journaling enables us to record our journey. We’re not just writing experiences. Our accounting of life reveals our inner selves and maybe even a higher purpose.

I find comfort in ritual. I grab my Esterbook pen, the same pen that I’ve used for more than 50 years. I fill it with blue ink from an old Schaefer well, open a leather-bound notebook and sip on a chai tea latte from Penelope’s or a black tea from Starbucks. I’ve written tens of thousands of words, and I can’t say for sure anyone will ever read any of them.

If you keep a journal, you’ll realize that it doesn’t matter.

JOE PUGLIA is a practicing counselor, a professor of education at Glendale Community College and a former officer in the Marines. Reach him at Visit his website at

Copyright © 2019, La Cañada Valley Sun
EDITION: California | U.S. & World