The Notebooks That Keep Us

The Notebooks That Keep Us

As an early, avid collector of notebooks, I fondly remember shopping for diaries and journals with my mother from time to time. In my youth, I traveled a lot on various “missions trips” (if you know what I mean, you know what I mean, and no, I am not that person anymore), and so, most of my notebook use revolved around documenting those experiences. Aside from the yearly “trip” journal, I mostly kept a diary of all of my secret thoughts, which were few and not very exciting (one imagines), since I did not keep a single one of my old diaries. What a shame.

Nevertheless, in my early twenties, I took it upon myself to do some writing, be a blogger, which ultimately led me to the discovery that I truly love writing. And so, like a good little perfectionist, I sought to be the best writer through the acquisition of various notebooks, pens, pencils, writing utensils, etc., etc., &c. And for awhile, my notebook(s) (depending upon how many I am utilizing at any given moment) was/were everything. The notebook itself was everything. I found that I had little to nothing to write in them, and so, they were little accessories to my #writerslife. And then, one day, I became a real writer, and with this comeuppance, the realization befell me that I just need some paper (and a pencil [not a pen, never a pen]).

But by this point, I was living in Seoul, South Korea, and so, coming across mere paper became very difficult. In the Land of All Things Cute, Seoul offers notebooks aplenty, however, those notebooks are always decorated in the cutest of cute graphics and/or images. Thus, for my new-found proclivity for simple sheets of paper, I was at a loss and was thereby forced to care through the sheer proliferation of notebooks designed to be adorable.

Now, I am residing in These United States, and I terribly miss the cute factor I inevitably began taking for granted in Seoul. I cannot find cuteness anywhere! Alas, I am reminded that as a writer, I only need paper. And so, I happily turn to the pages bound together in the style of “Composition Book” and remember that my notebooks only carry meaning after I’ve been carrying them for awhile. It’s the transition, now, that really breaks my heart whenever the pages of a current notebook either begin to run out of inspiration or physical pages.

I become attached to the thing, not because of the words written inside or the general look of the notebook, but rather, I become attached through its sheer proximity to me for months and/or years. The acquisition of a new notebook is no longer an act of excitement or anticipation. Instead, these days, a new notebook means the loss of a current notebook, the one with which I have become so familiar over the past months or even years. I now exist in this place where I couldn’t care less about which notebook will become my next new notebook. Instead, I’m attempting (every day) to enjoy this time that I’m having with this notebook that I’m using. The notebook wouldn’t be much to me without me, and I might not be the same me without it.

I don’t know about you, but for me, my notebooks know all of my thoughts. Usually, I imagine that my notebook knows me better than myself. It certainly stores my mental whims and wishes effectively enough so that years later, I may look back upon my mental whims and wishes and understand myself better today. Perhaps, then, my point is less about the notebooks I carry and more about how the notebooks carry me. Each one of them was used during a very specific time in my life (within a very specific state of mind). And so, as I write my mind into these books, I am imbuing them with the essence of myself. Of course, this can all be perceived as spiritual mojo, hub-bub, nonsense, but it could also be read with an air a bit more akin to realism, something fairly straightforward. The straightforwardness would have to stem from the thing about literacy, but I do not know what it is exactly that makes literacy so powerful for/to the intellect.

And so, I must end with this, “Am I the collection of words I leave behind?”