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Personal Essay by Samuel Phineas Upham

By Samuel Phineas Upham

Three years ago in my 10th grade English class I was given the assignment to write journal; writing a personal essay reminds of that assignment. I am often moved by the preciousness of time, a concept abundant in poetry, especially in Andrew Marvell’s poem “To his Coy Mistress.” This notion really made an impression on me when I was asked by my teacher back then to keep a daily journal. In the beginning it was cumbersome, but eventually the project turned out to be an exciting journey.

At first the journal felt like an intruder getting into and critiquing the details of my life. It was difficult for me to understand what and for whom I should be writing. One day I wrote to impress my teacher, another day I wrote for posterity, but I was always no matter what trying to impress the journal itself.

With journaling constantly on my mind and heavy on my shoulders, I looked through my father’s old family documents and found my grandfather’s diaries. I was so impressed with the writing; it was formal, copious, and literate. It must have taken an entire day to write a single entry leaving no time for regular activities!
After being impressed by the diaries of my grandfather, my own journals failed in comparison. So right away I decided to change that. And over time my journal started to dictate my life to me. If I was chewing an apple, I would enjoy it in a way that I could describe it in my diary. I paid attention to every detail, from the way it tasted to the unique hue. I also loaded my schedule with plenty of activities in order to impress the journal. However, the project soon turned ridiculous. One page went on about a fruit while another listed a bunch of events. The project seemed silly and vain.

With this understanding I went back to documenting the ordinary details of my life and my regular thoughts. But it wasn’t the same. The journal had made an impact in my life, and now a day without writing in the journal left the journal and me empty. Through this project I had gained a completely new understanding of the potential of a day, and that understanding continues to improve my journals and my life.

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