By Martha B.

I recently read an article where Minda Zetlin, co-author of “The Geek Gap,” suggests that to reduce worrying one should make writing a journal part of one’s response to stress. She claims that research has found that people who put their feelings (and even their fears) on paper, experience many emotional and health benefits. This is particularly important during these times as we are socially distancing and keeping away from our usual activities. Moreover, if you decide to try journaling, you will be joining a group of elite people who, over the years, have documented important events in history, science, and art. Here are some examples of men, women, and children who are noted for keeping diaries or journals. Maybe some day YOUR name will be on this list?

  • Charles Darwin, creator of the theory of evolution, kept a journal during his entire life until four months before he died. On the right-hand side he told of personal matters and on the left he discussed his important work. The journal was first published in “Life and Letters” in 1887.
  • Samuel Pepys, as a member of Parliament, stayed in London during the bubonic plague and wrote a first-hand account of that tragedy in his diary, written between 1660 and 1669.
  • Anne Frank was given a diary for her 13th birthday. She was faithful in keeping the diary while hiding from the Nazi’s during World War II. Her diary was published by her father in 1947 after Anne had sadly perished in a Concentration Camp.
  • Lewis and Clark were sent in 1803 by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the Louisiana Territory which the United States had just purchased from France. In their journal, they mapped rivers, recorded plant and animal life, and interactions with native Americans.
  • Leonardo da Vinci produced more than 20 thousand pages of notes and drawings on topics ranging from art and philosophy to engineering. Living during the 17th century, he was truly a “Renaissance Man!”

Many of the diaries, notebooks, and journals mentioned above can be found at your public library.

I end this article with a quote, attributed to Leonardo himself:

What is fair in men doesn’t last. Old age creeps up on you. Nothing’s more fleeting than the years of a man’s life, but there is time enough for those who know how to use it. What’s the point of passing the Earth unnoticed? A man who does not become famous is no more than wood smoke on the wind or foam upon the sea, but I intend to leave a memory of myself in the minds of others.” – Leonardo Da Vinci, Discipline of Experience