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Last summer I found some diaries I kept during college and through my twenties and early thirties. There were quite a few of them, perhaps twelve or fifteen volumes.

I thumbed through them. As you might expect they are full of angst and emotional hand-wringing…the ramblings of someone trying to find their way and figure out how to live.

I had two thoughts. One was that I don’t really ever need to read these again. My memory of the events of that time are enough. The second thought was that if I died unexpectedly I wouldn’t want anyone else to read them either. I suppose you can’t die of embarrassment if you are already dead, but you never know.

Still, I couldn’t just toss the journals in the trash. They represent years of living, the hard work it takes to really grow up and become who you are. And so I had a dilemma…what to do with journals I don’t really want to keep but can’t really throw away.

And then an idea came to me. I would tear out the pages and make new paper out of the sheets. I tore sheets out of the journals, trying to find pages with things of importance on them. When I tore them, I left some the pieces large so that fragments of the old words could appear in the new sheets of paper.

Some of my friends were horrified to hear that I would destroy these old journals, but I think it’s a perfect solution. All those words are still with me in the new sheets of paper so nothing is lost. It’s just relegated to the fuzzy domain of memory where it all belongs. And the new paper is like a work of art.

I still have lots of old journal pages still to re-make. Maybe when it’s complete I’ll stitch the new sheets into a new journal or scrapbook.

What do you think? Was it a bad idea to remake the journals in this way? Or do you like the idea?

I think it’s kind of poetic, like the phoenix rising from the ashes, but you know me… I sometimes fall in love with the metaphor when it’s not very sensible. At least no one will ever have to read hundreds of pages of my early life angst. My relatives will likely consider it a public service.