Our Day of Discovery
Guest Post by Diana M. Raab
Last month we celebrated Columbus Day, the arrival of Columbus in the Americas back on October 12, 1492. When I was a child we celebrated on the actual day, but times have changed and protocols have evolved. These days, we have gotten greedy for 3-day weekends so this and other national holiday celebrations now conveniently fall on Mondays. It’s funny how it works for National holidays but not for birthdays and anniversaries, but this would be the subject of yet another blog.
I wonder what would have happened if Columbus did not arrive in America on that fall day back in 1492. Where would we all be now? Would we even be? It’s scary to think that one action like a boat ride, one decision and one discovery can affect an entire global destiny. The idea of discovery has always fascinated me.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, “discovery” is defined as “the act of finding something unexpectedly or in the course of a search.” Certainly we have all had discoveries in our lives which have changed us forever. Today, I would like to honor those discoveries.
For me, there were many signposts in my life that changed me forever. For example, arriving for work at my future father-in-law’s farm in 1972 and unexpectedly meeting my husband-to-be. Who would have thought that when our parents discovered one another in a hotel restaurant that they would become good friends and the following summer I would end up working at their nursery in Canada. From a literary standpoint, I was delighted during my MFA Program at Spalding University to discover the diaries of Anaïs Nin, who has served as my inspiration for so many years now. Nin began her journals at eleven during a boat trip from Europe to New York with her mother and two brothers. The journal began as a letter to her estranged father who years earlier left the family to live with a younger woman. Over the years, Nin’s journals, like mine, became her best friend and confidante. Initially she had no intention of publishing the journals which amounted to more than 15,000 typewritten pages and 150 volumes, but in 1966 she found a publisher who published the series. Today, there are seven volumes available.
I am not sure whether my journals will be as interesting to future generations. Nin’s are extremely sensuous and philosophical. Mine are more stream-of-consciousness in nature. Nin studied psychoanalysis with Otto Rank and Carl Jung. Her journals were a true sampling of a woman’s voyage of self-discovery and a source of inspiration for women and men world-wide. Her journals were more than simple diaries, as each volume had a theme and included numerous letters to her intimate friends, including her lover, Henry Miller. She believed that self-knowledge through journaling was the source of our personal liberation. Amen, Anaïs.
One idea might be for you to write about your own discoveries!
Diana Raab is a memoirist, essayist, poet and author of seven books and editor of two essays collections, including the latest, Writers and Their Notebooks (2010) with an introduction by Phillip Lopate. She is a journaling advocate and teaches in UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and in various conferences around the country. Her forthcoming book, Healing With Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey is forthcoming from Loving Healing Press in June 2010. Visit Diana Raab.