The Journal Keeper

As so often happens, the right things find their way to the right person at the right time. I came across The Journal Keeper, A Memoir by Phyllis Theroux in a nearby thrift store. I was drawn to the cover, a photograph of a wingback chair, finely upholstered in a jewel-toned red jacquard fabric, situated on a green lawn amidst dappled light with a white picket fence in the background and a table alongside stacked with books. I felt an immediate connection to this ordinary scene in an uncommon setting. I picked up the book, read a few entries and knew this book was worth my time.

It was only after I returned to the car and inspected the book that I discovered two surprises. First, the book was signed by the author and addressed to Miriam Green "with affection." I am grateful to Miriam Green for donating her book so that I might find it. And I'd like to think that Phyllis Theroux would not take offense that her book was given away; that she might view this act of sharing as a supreme compliment whereby another reader might be affected by her words. The second surprise came as I read the book jacket more carefully. Phyllis Theroux lives and works just down the road from me in Ashland, Virginia.  Oh wait, one more surprise. Back at home I did a quick internet search and located Phyllis' website, Nightwriters, where I found an endearing video, The Making of a Book Cover. The video documents Phyllis traipsing all over downtown Ashland with her wingback chair in tow, searching for the perfect background to photograph the chair. She took the picture for her the cover of her own book, bringing her vision to life!

As I turned the pages in the Journal, I found myself thinking of Phyllis as a friend. I related to her loving role as her mother’s caretaker, to her struggles for financial security, to her fears and self-doubt, and most of all to her pursuit of creative passion.

Fear makes us take time-consuming detours around the thing we are afraid of. It is possible to live one’s entire life this way, not going toward what we desire, avoiding what we cannot find the courage to confront. Every new apprehension is a new link in the chain of fears. –Phyllis Theroux

And I think I might like to keep a journal as Phyllis says. . . “as a way of taking your thoughts and fears and subduing them, like pining butterflies to a wax tablet, so you can examine them more closely.”