My bucket list includes meeting a handful of people I admire – comedians, authors, actors. And my goal in meeting them isn’t just to stand in a line for their autograph. I’d like to get even a few seconds to have a real conversation with them. Except given the chance, I don’t know what I’d say or ask. Which, I’m learning, needs to change. Because having a specific question could be the key to that meaningful conversation (and might introduce a surprising connection between you and that person). That’s what happened for a writer friend of mine, Sara Marchessault.
Before I share Sara’s story with you, you must know this about her: she is an avid journal-keeper. And not just someone who writes in a journal every day, but
an intentional, creative journal writer who uses her skill and interest in journaling to help other people every day. Check out her website to learn more about Sara. Sign up for her newsletter for periodic journaling prompts sent to your inbox. Most of all: pick up a copy of her book, Beyond Pen & Paper: 33 Experiments in Journaling.
Now, here’s Sara’s bucket list story of how meeting someone famous intersected with her life’s passion:
Do you have a list in your head, or maybe written down somewhere, of people you would really like to meet?
When I was a kid I really wanted to meet Pope John Paul II. I think seeing his photo in catechism every week made me want to see what he would be like in person.
I have since modified my list to people who are much more accessible than the Pope. Elizabeth Gilbert is on my list. So is Ann Patchett.
In April 2015 I met Ann Patchett, right here in Tallahassee at the Word of South Festival.
And [in April 2016] I got to meet Elizabeth Gilbert. There we are in the photo [to the right].
I was giddy like a middle schooler in the 90s about to meet NKOTB.
She was in town as part of Opening Nights and when I was invited to the meet and greet reception before the event (thanks to my oldest friend, Betsy) I knew I was going to get to ask her the question I really wanted to ask.
It was great. There were maybe 25 people there and it was easy to get a few minutes to talk with her. And my burning question was….
Where did you get the idea for Tomorrow Morning’s name?
Tomorrow Morning is a character in her book The Signature of All Things.
And guess where she found his name?
In an old journal.
Let me say that again….in an old journal!
How freaking cool is that?
Here is a real life example of what can happen when one person engages in a regular practice of keeping a record of life. What was probably at least a hundred years later, inspiration is found in the pages and a voice from the past is heard anew.
She found the name in a journal. It was a name that a teacher had given to a boy who appeared at the school, wanting to learn. And she, Elizabeth Gilbert, loved it and wanted it to be in her book.
As Elizabeth Gilbert shared later that evening, “life meeting life.” But instead of face-to-face, it was through pages composed long ago.
You just never know what will happen with your writing.
What I do know is that the practice of actually writing is sacred.
It’s also therapeutic, healing, clarifying, and can guide you to find the meaning and purpose in your daily actions.
It can ground you to your life experience and help you be the leader in your life.
It can even become your legacy.
Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, and mom who is on a mission to increase joy on the planet. Through the practice of self-reflection, we become aware of what brings us joy and what does not, and we make choices to move forward or stand still. Journal writing is a powerful reflection tool that can help any of us move forward, even in the darkest of times.