Now, these days, we're all so much more techie than that. Folks have Facebook and Pinterest and a zillion other sites and apps to document the tiniest details of each and every second of their lives. They have SmartPhones with them at every moment so that they are never disconnected from the virtual world online.
Yeah, you guessed it: that does not work for me.
I am not a Luddite. I understand that we have need of the cyberworld. But I also believe that it does not salve the soul nor calm the fevered brow. We need something that we can hold in our hands in reality; not a screen that we stare at in unreality. Being connected constantly merely disconnects us from reality until we no longer realize what it really is to be real.
Recently I listened for five minutes or so to a talk show on Mississippi Public Radio, and the subject was books. But they appeared to be advocating eBooks--Kindles and the like--and they asked for people to call in with preferences. I considered but did not call because my answer would seem old-fashioned and out-moded. For me, an e-Book is no book at all. I want something that is truly mine. Pages that I can make notes on, that I can add my thoughts to, to extra-illustrate as I so choose. (See this post: Extra-Illustration.) For me, a book is a conversation.
We are human beings. We learn by touch. We need something that we can see and feel. Something that doesn't disappear at the click of a delete button. Something that doesn't alter forever because it has been edited.
I have a book. My own Vade Mecum. It has changed me substantially--that is precisely what I wanted it to do, what I needed it to do, even though I did not know when I began more than four years ago that this is what it would become. It's a common thing--a spiral bound notebook that I found, typically, in a clearance sale basket. But it has become singular and entirely uncommon as I wrote and made it my own. It is a book that is only mine, and it is my conversation with myself.
I no longer write in it; the pages are all long-ago filled. But the book is never far from hand because I need it still sometimes. When I began, it was not with a purpose but merely because I heard something that shocked me out of emotional stupor. What I heard was a line of dialogue from a Japanese TV drama, and it caused me to think about something very familiar in an entirely new way. I had to write it down so I could think about it, and, thankfully, there was a fresh unused notebook nearby. I wonder where I would be now if the brown notebook had not been close to hand that day.
The idea became a Lenten commitment.
I kept on writing and thinking.
The commitment became a life-dedication, and it changed who I am because it caused me to live with a different awareness.
I am still learning.
And I hope to continue growing.
Because the notebook is a tangible thing, I don't have to worry about power-failures or internet outages. It's always nearby. My thoughts haven't been edited or deleted. Although I have been tempted to cross things through or to tear out a page, I haven't because that would have defeated the purpose I was attempting to achieve. No one else has left distracting comments, and no one has seen my secrets and truths. It is mine alone. There is bliss in solitude, in keeping some things sub rosa--it makes them more powerful.
I am reminded of an old saying:
It's the journey
and not the destination
Vade Mecum. There is an undeniable power in paper.