Brilliant hopes, heart-wrenching despair

Today, we have another fascinating contribution to my guest series about personal writing, and it’s a double first – Alejandro De La Garza is the first contributor from across the pond, and the first to keep his diaries digital.

Alejandro De La Garza

Not long after I began walking and talking around the age of 9 months, my parents started teaching me to read. The books were those simply-worded “See Spot Run” types, but I took to them with uncannily inborn sense of ease. Whenever my folks became engaged with some task, they made sure I was either asleep or sitting on the couch with one of those books. Many of those colorful pre-school tomes were “Golden Books,” the classics of childhood literature that helped to educate the toddler masses. I still have scores of them stored away neatly in boxes; surely they’d be collector’s items by now.

By the age of 5 – before entering kindergarten – I had started writing. Although I could speak in complete sentences and use seemingly grown-up words, putting those thoughts into written form became my primary means of communication. I’ve been reading and writing voraciously ever since.


I first started a personal journal in the summer of 1983, but stopped. I resumed the following year and have maintained a private journal for the better part of the past thirty-two years. I realized long ago these journals weren’t just a record of a mundane life. I could inscribe my most intimate thoughts and ideas. After all, no one would view them except me; or at least not until after I die. I don’t have to be proper and considerate of other peoples’ sentiments. Political correctness has no real place in these writings. The most authentic side of my otherwise quiet persona arises to expunge the wrath of a troubled mind or the glory of an exuberant soul. It runs the gamut, from the most brilliant hopes for an extraordinary future to the abyss of heart-wrenching despair.

In June of 2013, I suffered a freak, but critical accident here at home where my right upper arm experienced a severe gash that damaged nerves running down to my hand. Three months later a hand surgeon did her best to rehabilitate those nerves. Because it was almost impossible to write manually, I began keeping my journal in electronic format. The mechanics are definitely easier. But the purpose remains the same.

Whenever I’m in great emotional or even physical distress, I turn to my journal and let the anxiety melt onto the computer screen. Conversely, when things are going well, my journal captures the beauty of that moment. These journals are my refuge.

You can say read more from Alejandro on his blog

Alejandro’s story reminds me of when I was a child; as soon as I could write, writing became an immediate and necessary response to experience. Does his experience of journal-writing resonate with you?

4 thoughts on “Brilliant hopes, heart-wrenching despair”

  1. Hello Alejandro. I know exactly where you’re coming from – I love the fact that you can, in your journal/diary, write your innermost thoughts, fears and aspirations without reprimand from other people. It’s also interesting to look back and relive some of those emotions.

    1. Reliving the emotions – yes, you’re right. I’ve thought of mine as a resource for checking facts, memory being such a slippery customer – but it’s the emotion that makes them such powerful reading.

    2. Thank you, Julie. Diaries and journals are for anyone, not just writers. It’s interesting to peruse the old ones – which involves pulling out the boxes where I have them stuffed – and see how some things about my life have changed, while other aspects remain the same. I believe if everyone would maintain some kind of private journal, we’d see less violence and hopelessness in the world. My journals are therapeutic, and people could always use some kind of therapy that doesn’t involve pills, food, alcohol or guns.

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