Dear Diary

by Joel L, Western Australia

Dear Diary,

Today I turned six and was given a balloon. That balloon has the most beautiful of colours and it seemed that no matter how much I blew, it could keep expanding and expanding. The shape and colour expanded with it. It feels magical and I feel so confident when I hold it near me.

Dear Diary,

I took my balloon out yesterday to show everyone how beautiful it was. Some people smiled but some people were mean, I could feel they wanted to pop my balloon – it didn’t feel safe to keep my balloon out there. When I got home, I decided I had better put the balloon in a box to keep it safe. It was hard to do because I love it so much, but I think it is the best for everyone.

Dear Diary,

It’s been a few weeks since putting that balloon away; I feel a bit less special now and not as confident, but people around seem less agitated. I am not sure what to do, so I copy what everyone else is doing… it’s kind of fun; not the fun I had with my balloon but everyone else seems to enjoy it.

Dear Diary,

It has been a few years now since I last wrote to you… School is tough, teachers want so much from me and the playground can be a vicious place. I’m glad I don’t have my balloon here, it would have been crushed. I find sport is the best way for me to get through each week. It’s good to feel my body working even though the tackles can be hard.

Dear Diary,

Wow, what a weakling I was, looking back at all those entries. Why would anyone care so much for a balloon? Sport is fantastic, I am not the fastest but I get onto all the teams, school still sucks but at least I have friends to play sport with.

Dear Diary,

How can anyone choose what they want to be when they grow up?… it’s too hard to decide. School is hard, sport is okay. I started to teach myself guitar and writing some songs to help make sense of it all.

Dear Diary,

So this is it hey, I have to work, pay rent, kids are on their way. Better make sure I am a good father, husband and all that. Don’t have time to think much about what I want to do, just better do what I need to do to make this all work.

I don’t have much energy unless I push really hard, but I guess this is life.

Dear Diary,

I met a guy who reminded me of my balloon. He still had one. Initially I was a bit dismissive of him, actually a bit jealous… but it did make me wonder.

Dear Diary,

You know what, I went looking for my balloon the other day. I was sure I would have thrown it away by now. It was hard work, I spent a long time looking through loads of papers, trophies and other keepsakes. I had to stop myself from getting distracted as I rummaged through all this stuff. Some of the old songs I wrote are hilarious, such teenage angst… at the same time I could still feel what was behind that angst…

It all feels a bit too hard to go through all that old stuff right now, I might try to find it later.

Dear Diary,

Sorry for the long break between entries but I went back through my stuff a few times; I learnt lots about what was important to me and what I was still holding on to.

Guess what, it turns out my balloon was harder to lose than I thought. I was a bit nervous when I came across the box, what if it was all torn or deteriorated. I opened the box and felt sad; not because it was destroyed, but because it was still there – perfect and just as I had remembered it.

Dear Diary,

I had been keeping my box with the balloon in it to myself for a while now, my wife wanted to see it and so did the kids, but it didn’t feel right to share it – what if they laugh?

After some coaxing, I opened the box and showed them… they didn’t blink – of course that’s you, they said. And as I shared mine, they went and got theirs… turns out my kids hadn’t packed theirs away too far.

Dear Diary,

Something dawned on me today: for the past few years, I have got a huge sense of comfort from re-connecting with my balloon, but I never blew it up!

Just having it there made me feel comfortable, that was enough for me, but not any more. The real joy, the real beauty, is not from knowing where it is but from having it blown up and on display… but it’s so old, surely it will burst.

Dear Diary,

I’ve been filling the balloon with my own breath for the past few months, little bit by little bit I blow it up. It feels great to see its colours again. At times I get nervous it will burst so I let a bit of air out, but it never does, so slowly and slowly I keep filling… with a smile on my face for each additional breath I breathe into it.

374 thoughts on “Dear Diary

  1. Joel I love the analogy of this blog and how we visit our own balloon from time to time and let it out, less then more. It is only when we meet someone that reflects that we all still have this balloon can we reflect to others too. Some people respond and some will react to this reflection and it is the way it is.

    The sad part is when people who react can be so mean towards another who is willing to go there and want to reveal themselves. It is an adjustment we all have to make which ever way we go. I know the way I have chosen will remain to the day I take my last breath and to many other lives to come…The question is, what are you going to do with your balloon?

    1. Leigh I totally agree, it is when we allow for it to be deflated do we react to others, it is that simple.

  2. This is no diary of a whimpy kid. This is the diary of someone who is reclaiming what they once had and now ready to show the world no matter what. And hence a so called story with a true purpose of inspiration.

  3. I too recognize how I know I have a balloon and I know I take it out and blow it up but I also know there are times when I let out some of its air or times when I hide it from others. Why is it that we cannot just let it be for all to see, and not worry about how another might react or perhaps might not like it?

  4. Joel, this is a gorgeously written blog and one that brings me to tears in recognizing how we all have done what you have described here in hiding a very precious part of ourselves from the world because of how others might react.

  5. As we huff and puff our way through life would it not be better as you have so simply shared from the later parts of your, blog to be in constant expansion, with a focus on how we breathe, so we feel the “magical ‘joy of a continuous ‘expansion’ as I am now seeing in some students children! So with the loving support of our families anything is possible.

  6. I love the analogy of coming back to ourselves and filling our balloons breath by breath as our connection grows stronger and we can then choose to share that with others and reflect our true colours.

  7. We might think we are the only one with a secret balloon hidden somewhere but we all have hidden it somewhere thinking ‘it would be best for everyone’ but who is that ‘everyone’ I wonder.

  8. “It’s been a few weeks since putting that balloon away; I feel a bit less special now and not as confident, but people around seem less agitated. I am not sure what to do, so I copy what everyone else is doing… it’s kind of fun; not the fun I had with my balloon but everyone else seems to enjoy it.” Doesn’t this sum up human life currently and the compromises we make because of the discomfort being in the brilliance of our essence brings up for others? It is though amazing to have the opportunity to restore the balloon, and learn to observe the discomfort of others and let it be.

  9. I noted that too Elizabeth in the part of the story about searching for the ballon, as it was covered up with all of life’s achievements and behaviours, but still there underneath it all shiny and colourful waiting to be enjoyed again.

  10. Joel, thanks for sharing such a beautiful story. I could see myself in every little piece you wrote. It’s interesting looking at how we ended up putting our natural joy and playfullness away simply because didn’t fit in our environment…and how hard we have tried to get through life distracting and convinving ourselves that it was ok. Love the moment when you meet someone who didn’t give up, who just kept his balloon with himself and reminded you that perhaps it was worth to come back to that box…a decission that made a significant change in your life.

    1. Inma, so true, Joel has written this in a brilliant way – a way that allows each and everyone of us to relate to it no matter where we have come from.

  11. I loved reading your blog Joel, it is brilliant. I could read a whole book of your writing. It is so relatable, honest and masterfully expressed.

  12. “not because it was destroyed, but because it was still there – perfect” Our essence is always perfect, always on and always available, beautiful.

  13. The best parent in the world is one that supports us to keep our balloon up and not hide it away. And they do this through how they live, living with their balloon too showing the way for us all to live a life of joy and playfullness.

  14. It can be a real challenge when we are little to share all the wonder of our being with another, our purity, joy, love, and our exquisite wisdom and truth and to have that disapproved of, to see others in reaction to us, and even experience jealousy from others. It’s huge really for little innocent bodies to understand so no wonder so many of us put away the wonder and magic of our soul.

    1. It certainly is Melinda and our world currently doesn’t support us to shine and share all of who we are. But if we hold back living who we are, ultimately this could hurt us more than the attacks we may receive due to jealousy.

  15. The path of survival is the eternal finding reasons that justify a pattern of movement that although we make it ours, we do not truly belong into it. The path of return is the rediscovery of a treasure that we left behind that allows us to feel and then accept that we are a treasure ourselves.

    1. Yes the treasure is us and we expend so much energy fighting this fact – no wonder there is so much exhaustion in the world.

  16. This is a great reminder that we have not quite actually let that balloon go, we only just hid it somewhere. It is there somewhere. That is good to remember.

  17. Argh the personas we all create to fit into a balloon-less world where underneath it all all we want back is our own balloons to share with each other.

  18. Love the diary format here, it makes the average progression through life very clear. What is not so common are the last three entries, yet these are the three that every single one of us can choose given the reflection that it is indeed possible.

    1. So true Rosanna, this blog is so inspiring, it shows us no matter how hard we try to hide our balloon (our essence) it is always there waiting for us to share it with the world. By hiding this, it not only hurts us but it affects the people around us too.

  19. The colourful balloon is a great analogy for the joy and light that we learn to hide from an early age to not upset the adults who are triggered by the reflection.

  20. Thank you Joel. Every time I see a balloon I will feel the love of the breath within that expands the whole.

  21. Joel I loved re-reading your blog, it brought real joy to my heart, reminding me that even though I too have a beautiful balloon, I occasionally forget to show it in its full glory.

  22. So true it is that we can never lose who we are, it is only that we move away from being all that we are. But the beautiful truth is that regardless of how far away we may have moved from being who we are, we are only ever one movement away from returning to breathing the love we innately are within. Clearly our world would be a vastly different place, as would our relationships, if we were fostered to live who we are from the day we were born.

  23. I would read everything this guy writes, he is an absolute master. What a great, great story and so relatable of what goes on in life and how we walk away from things or just pack them away. It’s revealing to see and sense the changes that happened not only in this story but in our lives as we ‘grow’ from being a child to a teenager to a young adult and up. What stands firm through all of this is that no matter where we go or how long it is since we have seen our balloon it is all still there, ever so patiently waiting for us to return. The article is also symbolic in this way, we move, we walk away and it is only when we return that we see the fact of this.

    1. I agree Ray, Joel Levin certainly is our modern day master of parables. It is very inspiring to be reminded of the truth that the effervescence, sparkle and awe that we lived with as children, is who we still are, it actually has never left us. We only need to look within and re-connect to this innate quality that resides within us all, and defines who we really are.

      1. Articles and conversations like these are so so refreshing and open us beyond Monday to Sunday. The world isn’t what we have made it and we don’t need to wait for the world to come to this. From the awareness we are discussing here we are already calling for more and from here now the call has gone further and deeper. It’s not that we must keep going but more this is how it all works, once you have seen to a depth that is a new foundation to be appreciated that then opens to the next part. We are unfolding this back to the known beginning and not on a journey into the unknown.

  24. Such a great story Joel! Reading the progression of what happens to most of us that hide our ourselves along the way. A real reminder that it’s safe to let our light shine bright and no one will combust because of it.

  25. This blog has also reminded me of a gorgeous French film called The Red Balloon I saw as a child. I’ve just searched for it… it’s still out there for anyone who is interested.

  26. Very touching, Joel. A beautiful analogy for the ever-present possibility that we can return to the love and joy we innately and always are.

  27. Joel, your blogs are so gorgeous to read, I always look forward to them. I am returning to live from my delicateness so loved what you shared here.

  28. This brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful Joel, you have expressed so much here and I know so many of us can relate.

  29. All of us have this quality of preciousness inside us that is hard to hold onto as nothing in the world or how it is today confirms this, so we forget about it. Most of us then join the world that has forgotten this preciousness..yet deep down, we do all know that the way the world is today is not how it should be, that we are deeply missing something. Amazing that we have the tools to reconnect to what we’ve missed, and that no one else can do this for us: it starts with us, breathing our own breath and walking our own walk.

  30. The most intriguing blog I have read. I enthusiastically read each diary entry to understand more and follow the journey. You know Diary, there is no end, just more and more expression and expansion . . .

  31. The bright shiny balloon is a wonderful image of our preciousness as children and one that we need not pack away and hide.

  32. Gosh the essence of a child and the tenderness of a man is deeply felt in this blog. It makes me aware that everyone is the same no matter what they put out and choose to do. Everyone has a wonderful balloon inside but they have hidden it away and what we are dealing with is the end result of a world without our balloons

  33. I loved reading this blog Joel, my daughter has always spoken about her balloon as a way to express her feelings especially going to school. She will be aware of the size of her balloon and if it shrinks throughout the day. Such beautiful and playful imagery to share that can support us to constantly expand and grow.

  34. I love this story/ modern day parable! Thank you Joel for reminding us all that no matter how much we may have shunned or buried our balloon (essence or soul) it is eternally there waiting for us to re-connect with it…

  35. We may be the only one around who is letting their balloon be seen by others – breathing life into it and expanding it with every loving choice. If this is so then so be it. Once others see it they’ll remember they have one too – some may even be inspired to go and find it and starting blowing it up again.

  36. What if from young we were helped to understand and expect that some people will want to pop our baloon. To know that it is only because of the pain of having put their own baloon away and that it is not personal. And to be supported to find our own way of dealing with this without being phased. Thank goodness that many parents who have gained this insight are offering their children such fundamental support..

    1. Joel’s parable describes how well we forget the soul and begin joining into life without it, burying our awareness of it with the many layers of life and the behaviours we chose. No wonder people become so unsettled when they are presented with someone connected to their soul because it shakes up the constructed realities we have all made life to be by exposing life and how we are in it as false. Regardless of the reactions, people essentially are being reflected that they too are soul, and may also be inspired to live again from what they too had buried.

  37. Beautifully expressed Joel. Being full of ourselves has had some ‘bad press’ because it is seen as arrogant and self-obsessed/possessed. There is for sure a reinterpretation of self-love that does bring this out in some people – but there is also a truth in loving ourselves and being claimed and honoured that is in my experience so very healthy. In fact is it the only true way to being the love that we are in life and reflecting it back to others.

    1. Spot on Richard. And the infectious nature of expressing this level of love is beautifully shown in the story “as I shared mine, they went and got theirs…” So often in life everyone is just waiting for someone to start the ball rolling and lead the way.

  38. I love your story telling Joel, enjoyable to read with a message so true. A celebration is in order… so we will need a lot more of expanded balloons… thanks heaven we all have one.

  39. We always have it, our innermost and while most of us put it away for fear of being hurt in fact it never goes away and when we do decide to reconnect to and find it, there it is.

  40. What a great blog Joel, what’s beautiful is no matter what our essence is always there, nothing can really crush us, that spark is always there waiting to ignite. Just that allowing is all it needs.

  41. Stunning as always Joel, you are the maestro of metaphors. Thank God for us that you chose to connect back to what has been with you always and as such bless us with its beauty.

  42. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant Joel. By you showing your colourful balloon to the world and consistently expanding it, it reminds us that we too have something similar and equally magnificent to nurture, care and share.

  43. Has this been made into a children’s book yet, Joel? You really have this beautiful gift of making a most profound truth into a very accessible, relatable, light and fun story that touches and echoes into our hearts so deeply. Please, do not ever stop writing.

    1. I totally agree Fumiyo, I too love Joel’s writing for exactly the same reasons. His gift of writing and the way he expresses is a gift to us all.

  44. Most of us ‘keep a lid’ on our true selves, and having the opportunity to take the lid off is such a blessing, and then to share this with others is a boon for all.

  45. Incredible and very symbolistic way of showing that we have this inner balloon , and we can or stay comfortable just by knowing that it is there , unrevealed, or choose to let it out and enjoy its way! So symbolic, but actually a true true support for all to read. Thank you Joel.

  46. What a beautiful bedtime story Joel – sweet dreams are on their way before my head even touches the pillow!

  47. I loved your blog Joel it brought tears to my eyes for this is what i did with my heart long ago, wrapped it up and hid it away. These day I am bringing it out for this is the true me to bring to the world, shining out for others to shine also.

  48. We may think we have to hide our balloons because they may fail us however that is only the perception we use to put them away. The balloons never failed we convinced ourselves otherwise.

  49. Such a grace in this sharing… and to find out that our balloons are out of energy and so: indestructible. The only way to make it apparent disappear is when we put it away, ignore and dismiss it. Se others embracing and living their light (balloon) is inspiring. It is possible to live it on earth and it is our choice to do so.

  50. Our balloons never burst or fly away, but sometimes we pack them away so far that we think that they have. But they are waiting for us to remember them and when we do we will know that they never left us at all.. ever.

  51. It is easy to allow comfort to creep in when we finally realise the beauty of life we could live when our balloons are nearby once more. But the beauty doesn’t stop there, why not keep going and experience the wonder of connection within and with all?

  52. I’m sure this blog sparks inspiration and Love in everyone’s hearts – something we can all relate to. I loved the bit where each family member went to get their balloons as well and it reminded me that we are all in this together. Anyone I think has hurt me or acted in dismissiveness, jealousy or deceit, has also got a balloon – an inner essence of purity, truth and love that they may have said a temporary good bye to long ago and have been trying to protect it ever since. This blog is an outstanding metaphor for life.

  53. This touched me deeply and I love the absolute simplicity in what you have expressed here Joel. This is something everyone can relate to… and I totally agree with jsnelgrove36 this would definitely be a awesome children’s/adult book! Just even remembering to breathe our own breath is powerful in itself… I never once contemplated this growing up but it makes so much sense… if we are doing anything from a belief or ideal, from a need of recognition, to fit in, to not stand out, to be liked, for security etc etc, of course we are breathing something that is the complete opposite of who we are. This is a brilliant blog!

  54. So beautiful to re-read Joel. “The real joy, the real beauty, is not from knowing where it is but from having it blown up and on display…” Yet as we grow up most of us learn to hide our beauty and joy. But it is always there, waiting to be uncovered and to shine once again.

  55. A delightful and powerful story of how as children we close down the joy of who we are and the choice we can all make to reclaim our joy and share it with others to inspire them to allow their joy and love to shine. Definitely a children’s book that will say more to the adult reading it than the child listening.

  56. I loved reading this and can see it easily as a children’s book (or adults!). Thank you Joel.

  57. Oh I love this, I could feel so many of the steps with the balloon. Isn’t it interesting that symbolically we all know exactly the feeling you are describing and how it’s delicateness is synonymous with our delicateness.

    1. Indeed Lucy, it has been lovely to see so many people comment that the story matches their own experiences. It makes it seem crazy to some degree we are all doing similar things (the opposite of what we actually want)

  58. You’ve really enraptured a massive truth here – that life is pre-designed to crush us but no matter how severe that crushing the wonder of who we are never ever ever disappears.

  59. I very much appreciate the way you use analogies to express a message Joel. This blog of the balloon and your diary is another that I can totally relate to.

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