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.

339 thoughts on “Dear Diary

  1. One of the greatest evolutions of all for humanity will be live in a way that nurtures our delicacy and then by the very nature of reflection, our children would then be able to have this beautiful path of return laid out in front of them.

    1. It is a wonderful thing to contemplate, a childhood that honoured our delicateness and our divinity. Sign me up cjames2012.

      1. Yes Joel, and the extraordinary thing is, is that this generation now is upon us, and there are some amongst us who will be raising the children with this awareness, and they shall bring so much more light to the world just by their being.

  2. It’s beautiful to know that there will be children that perhaps do not need to live in a contracted way to get by. We can all learn to live like this, shining, glorious and without the need to bury ourselves in what we do.

  3. Your blog is a modern day Cinderella tale where your story has you as the ugly sisters, choosing to impose a life of hiding yourself away from the hurts of others in a self-made prison and then as the fairy godmother, choosing to allow yourself to reclaim your true worth bit by bit; then as prince, hunting for the shoe-balloon from where you can finally shine out and fully reclaim yourself. Happy Ever After.

    1. The best part is that it is not a fairy tale at all but my life and that there was no prince that came to save me, other than the choices I made…which means the longevity of my happily ever after remains firmly in my hands.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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)

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Joel, I love how you write in such an engaging and lighthearted way on the important issue of how life is not supportive of us, to be in our fullness. But it is lovely to know that if we leave the fullness of who we are, it waits patiently and welcomes us back when we choose to return to it.

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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..

  27. 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.

  28. 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…

  29. 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.

  30. 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

  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. 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 . . .

  33. 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.

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

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

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