I read about May Sarton, looked her up on Amazon and ordered “At Seventy: a Journal.” It was published in 1984 and is a daily journal of Saton’s seventieth year. Since I keep many journals, one is a daily log much like Sarton’s; and I will be 73 this July I thought reading another’s journal would be interesting.
Sarton is a poet with quite a few published books. Several are journals. She lives alone in York, Maine. I was immediately struck with the number of friends in her life. Locals but also people, mainly women, around the country. Some come to visit her for days; and there are many lunches and dinners, frequently hosted at her house. Usually with scotch, her preferred drink. She also corresponds with many — friends and aspiring writer- poets who write her. Sometimes responding in a dozen letters in a day.
Sarton does several readings during the year, at bookstores, college campuses or women’s organizations. A main theme in the journal is the tension between activity and socializing and solitude. She often takes a sigh of relief when she is finally alone. A time to write, reflect and just enjoy the quiet.
Sarton has a dog and cat. And she has a large garden, flowers and vegetables. She does get help maintaining the garden and house. But she is hard working and independent and does a lot herself. There are many entries that record her love of music, the ocean, flowers and birds.
Occasionally Sarton comments on current news. She is liberal in her viewpoint. But most of her writing is confined to the personal and everyday. A simple but authentic journal.
I have kept a daily journal since high school when Frank Meehan, my Junior English teacher advised me to write daily if I wanted to be a writer. Recently during the Coronavirus stay at home, I do write almost daily. Like Sarton most is a basic record of what I did during the previous day, starting with the weather, my health, mental state, people contact, maybe what I eat, gardening, harvesting, fire building during the season, what I’m reading, movies I watch, people I write or call, shopping, and places I visit if I leave home. I may also record hopes, dreams, and plans, what I should be doing or what I want to do. Recently I frequently comment on the news events of the day. I don’t view this writing for publication (Sarton does) nor do I expect others to read it. For me journaling serves as a reflection, a release, organizing my thoughts about I’ve done and what I plan to do.
I keep several other journals, restaurants, movies, books, travel, reflections for my grand kids, and significant events. Since I retired in 2014, I’ve blogged. Most blogs take a current event, experience or read (as this one) and run it through my life. What’s it means it me? It’s another form of journaling but is made public. And I hope someone will read it, find a bit of enjoyment or enlightenment. I might look for some other published journals to read. Any suggestions?