Deep inside the clutter of my purse is a small, leather-bound notebook. I can find it with one hand, even while the rest of me carries on a conversation. I dig around in my purse and when my fingertips brush the soft, slightly grippy leather, I hook one finger under the elastic band that holds its covers closed, and drag it out into the light.
My little notebook. It would be a mistake to call it a “system,” because the way I use it is far too unstructured for that. It’s just my notebook, where I jot down the things that I want to keep.
Of course, this includes mundane things - reminders to buy or do things. “Call the dog groomer!” You would think the pup’s bedraggled face would be enough reminder, but apparently not. “Pick up dishwasher detergent!” I write this after opening the dishwasher for the third time in one morning, only to be reminded I can’t run it because we’re out of detergent. You can always tell how urgent a task is by the number of exclamation points it receives in my notebook. It’s as though I am chastising myself, and I get louder as needed.
However, I also jot down aspirational plans. “Call your brother even though he never called you back.” I want to be a person who reaches out, so I nudge myself to try. “Pick the last of the tomatoes and make sauce using that new recipe.” I might as well use the last of summer’s bounty to try something new, rather than acting on autopilot. I hope I wrote down where I can find that recipe too.
My favorite entries, though, are the ones I just want to remember. “As I drove her to school this morning, Sophia announced that she was going to be a scientist who cures allergies.” I hope you do, sweet girl, I hope you do. “Now that he’s sixteen, Raphael’s voice suddenly sounds exactly like his dad’s. I keep startling when he speaks.” It really is true what they say about childhood; it goes so fast. “We are in the middle of a migration of painted lady butterflies. When I stepped out into the backyard this afternoon, a cloud of them lifted up from the grass, dotting the sky with fluttering stained glass.”
Scientists say that merely the act of writing something down makes you more likely to remember it. I do find that I am more apt to remember what I’ve tucked in my notebook, especially those items with multiple exclamation points. As time marches on, I appreciate anything that helps me keep track of my wits. But even more than that, I am grateful for my little notebook and how it helps me remember what needs to happen, what I want to happen, and the joy of what is happening.
Kira Martin is a freelance writer living in the beautiful state of Colorado. She is passionate about words and science, and loves how writing requires her to learn something new every day. If you would like to join her in writing for Epica, send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll consider it for publication!