For the first time since I published Toothbrushes, that task reappeared in my list this past week. “Pick up new toothbrush” it read, though saying more now than the last time I saw that reminder.
Now it tells me something like, “Pick up new toothbrush and reflect on the last few months of your life.”
I had thought that Day One might become part of my own life story telling but only a few times in months have I filled it with what’s on my mind. I’m just never compelled to open the app. I’m desiring less screen time and I find, though I’m not a paper fanatic, that scribbling in a pocket notebook is more visceral and right. Though apps try to pull us in by being “delightful,” being instinctive matters more to me and pulling a notebook out of my back pocket has become more true to me than pixels lighting a ghostly glow on my face. It feels natural to open a blank page and fill them.
Why isn’t it good enough reason to fall in love
with New York just because that’s where I am now?
Why do I always have to be
dreaming about being somewhere else?
In notebooks, I’ve found it a unique way to see the ink of my life spill together on the pages. Mundane lists, sketches you can’t decipher anymore, phone numbers you can never call again because of the pain on the other end of the line, meeting notes from an hour of your life you won’t ever get back. They flow together on paper in a way that matches our bleeding lives. Talking about buckets and scaffolding rarely tells the story that the bucket is our last hope to catch drips leaking from the broken pipe of our unmanaged time and that the scaffolding we set up is mostly intended to hide the crumbling facade rather than support the rebuilding of our lives.
On paper, we can see the mess that we are or the greatness that we’re becoming. These stories all draw together in ink stains and by letting ourselves spill out in pages—where our work and life aren’t trying desperately to be balanced and sandboxed—we can get a glimpse at the beautiful lives we ride.
And in a blink, we rise above the tarmac
and the city shrinks. The problems there
seem miniscule instantly compared to the
grandeur of the world around. You transform
in moments from the ants milling about into
the birds soaring above.
I’m not arguing the merits of paper versus software but trying to seed a reminder that each of those devices are meant to address our needs as humans and support our own purpose.
Wherever intentions lie, a pen or keyboard will work towards them.
When being introspective about our work and lives, be it one toothbrush at a time or ongoing, we make agreements with ourselves by choosing the words we write down. We promise to be more mindful, thoughtful, kind; to make more, eat better, relax. We scribble fragments of who we want to be so that we can convince ourselves we are. We document our days because sometimes it feels that if we don’t, no one will remember us, or we clack out ways we think we can start being more memorable.
It doesn’t matter where but that we do bleed out on blank pages.