Digging through the Muck (A Deeper Journal Practice)

I am thinking about muck.

Last weekend, I went foraging for mushrooms—not a kind for eating, but a kind for an art project and, as expected, I needed to leave the clearly marked trail to find them. While the sandy main trail had drained from the recent rain, the interior was muddy and messy. I was prepared with appropriate boots, but it was still a surprise to encounter so much murk. I found what I was looking for, loaded up my bag, and headed back out. Later that night, horror of horrors, I discovered my very first deer tick, nibbling away at my skin.

I love the outdoors, and I love the deep woods and the trails and the mountaintops and the riverbeds and the lakeshores. It is honestly a little bit of a shock that I hadn’t encountered a deer tick until a week ago. To be fair, I am deathly afraid of them. Any time I step off of a sidewalk, I check myself over. I drive my partner crazy with my paranoid questions. (Is this a tick? It’s your own skin. Are you sure???) But I really wanted to find some mushrooms! And sometimes you have to dig through the muck to get to what you really want. Sometimes you might even discover disgusting parasites along the way.

My monthly journal meet-up isn’t called “Trips to the Interior” for nothing. The muck often stands between you and everything you want. A lot of people find great satisfaction in using a journal to chronicle their day. A friend treasures her grandmother’s daybook where she recorded what birds she had seen and what the weather had been like. In one entry from 1919, amidst a list of things purchased at the market and neighbors greeted, is the simple line, “The war ended today.” Journals like this one have a clear value.

I use my journal in a different way. I use it to dig through the muck of my inner life. Why did a particular occurrence make me react a certain way? Why do I feel the way I do? I ask these questions in search of real answers. I want real answers, even if I don’t like what I find along the way. It’s worth it for the sense of clarity at the end. It’s worth it for the peace of understanding.

Our next journal meet-up, Trips to the Interior, happens this Saturday, August 24 at 2:45. We’ll talk a little bit about the muck, and I’ll give you some murky-muddy prompts if you want some help pushing yourself and taking your practice deeper. Join us for this free event. RSVP appreciated! 906.204.5560 or wildpagesmqt@gmail.com. Happy trekking!

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Amber Edmondson