There I was, sitting in a quiet library cubicle. Books piled on the table. There to get away from the craziness of living with three other University students, and whoever else happened to be in my home at the time.
As I think back to my days in school – the first time I was really away on my own, I recall these cubicles. It seems that I spent a lot of time in these small boxes, with my books, my thoughts, and not much else.
There was no Internet access or smart phones to distract me at that time. I was there to get work done… at least theoretically. In actual fact, much of my time in those cubicles was spent writing on the desk. I’d scribble out quotes, events of the day, and often – I’d write about how I felt. Happy. Sad. Alone. Frustrated. Whatever I was feeling.
To me, this was better than keeping a diary. It was a chance to get things out, and the fact that complete strangers would see them, was somehow therapeutic.
Often times, I would return to the same cubicles and see the responses scribbled on the desk. While some were admittedly crude, the vast majority of people responded with their own thoughts, stories and encouragement. It was genuinely helpful.
I’m reminded of my school days as I share the idea behind Bench Diary.
The concept is very simple. Sit down on a city bench, where a diary is attached. And write in it.
The results are eye-opening. From individuals simply commenting on the lovely surroundings, to others sharing their struggles with depression or addiction, it’s difficult not to support this type of city project.
Here are a few recent examples:
I will not pretend that a diary placed on a few benches has the ability to change the world overnight, but sometimes, we just need to share. Sometimes we don’t want to log into some web forum, or put ourselves out there on Facebook or Twitter.
Sometimes we want to sit on a park bench, or in a library cubicle, and share our innermost thoughts with people we’ve never met. Sometimes we want to read the responses, but often, we just want others to hear us. To know that our innermost thoughts will be received by others.
I encourage you to check out the Bench Diary movement, and consider starting the program in your community.