He listens well who takes notes.
Last weekend, I started a Book of Me. I had read Havi’s post about the concept before, and as I was reading her archives as a substitute for message boards that I gave up for Lent (and yes, there’s a whole other post on the topic of “how’s that working out for ya”), I rediscovered the idea.
And loved it, loved it, loved it. And then spent a few days agonizing over the format – after all, it’s a Book of Me, so it needs to be wonderful.
Then, last weekend, I was decluttering a stash box i.e. a storage container that becomes a graveyard for homeless knickknacks, and discovered a book.
I had bought it to be the guest book for my high school graduation party back in 2002. I bought it from a friend’s mom’s stationery shop that specialized in Nepalese hand made paper products. There were a few pages of guestbook entries from a few events, and then empty pages. Beautiful, empty pages.
I sat with the guilt of not using the book to the purpose it was bought for. I read through the entries. The well-wishes from people in a life ten years ago. The congratulations on the choices that were the only possible ones at that time, and ones that brought me to where I am today. The jokes from friends that are still friends, and from friends that are now distant acquaintances.
And then I took out the pages with writing on them.
I did stash them away, because I am not yet ready to let go of those memories. They’re no longer standing between me and my process of finding out who I am.
On the first blank page, I wrote “The Book of Me” with colored pencils.
The only problem was that I didn’t really have anything to put in the book. A few thoughts, yes, but not too much substance.
A work in progress
On the list of things to accept and welcome:
– I am a work in progress. Therefore, The Book of Me will forever be a work in progress.
It will not have seventy insightful ideas from the get-go, and that’s all right. It’s a document of learning, much like my MA thesis. Coincidentally, I’m also often frustrated by my thesis data not revealing its results to me with 15% of the work done.
I might have a tendency of wanting to see results without putting in the work. Maybe.
Also, if I give in to my craving to have a book full of wonderful insights, they will not be insights. Instead, they’ll end up being a prescriptive list of things I think I should be doing. That has not been working so far, so it’s time to try something different.
– I am allowed to write and draw and doodle on the blank, beautiful pages even if I’m not 100% sure that something is true. Or that it will be true for me forever more.
See previous (the “work in progress” part). Also, writing in pencil makes the updating process just a teensy bit easier.
– Even though Havi and others address themselves as loves, sweeties and honeys in their Books of Them, I don’t have to.
I thought about the whole addressing thing. For some reason, it is difficult for me to call myself darling, love, sweetie or other caring pet names. Fortunately, because it’s The Book of Me, I get to decide how I want myself addressed.
And maybe put in a bit of self-inquiry about why that is difficult for me and how I could make it a drop easier.
The Book of Me – a work of art or science?
When it comes to the blog, one of the things I’m looking forward to is getting to use the whole experiential reflection-and-analysis cycle on myself and my own glitches. It’s one thing to journal about something, but using a structured and conscious process might yield something different entirely.
And the results of that – dare I say it – nearly scientific research are just the thing to collect in my Book of Me.
Furthermore, science progresses and findings are replaced by new, more accurate findings. This is generally not seen as a bad thing, but rather a sign of, well, progress. I might want to take a leaf of their book to mine. 🙂
One part of the process that I’m still looking for is revision. How do I remember to go through my findings and actually do what I’m told?
I’ve tried the whole writing-things-down-as-routines -thing, several times, and for some reason I don’t do what it says on the page. I might do it for two days in a row, and then on the third day things start to slide.
Some combination of routine and study mode is probably what I need. After all, if I’m reading scientific findings, it’s sort of like reading for an exam, right? Even if I don’t know when that exam comes and what it will deal with?
So if, for instance, the third page of my Book says something along the lines of “if someone offers you a job, tell them you’ll give your answer tomorrow, and then spend the evening thinking about whether or not you can actually handle the extra work,” the exam might be a call from a prospective employer. It might come two weeks from now, three months from now, or much later.
But in order for me to pass the exam, I need to remember the finding. Failing the exam, in that case, would be saying “yes” straight off the bat and then realizing I’m much too busy to actually perform the task.
And yes, failure contains the makings of learning something new. In my case, a failure did indeed contain the seed of that particular insighting.
As someone said, if you don’t learn from your mistakes, they’re a waste of time. Writing things down reduces the risk of more time wasted on something you actually knew but didn’t remember.
Do you have a Book of You? Is your approach scientific or something else entirely? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
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