Your mind on paper
I often wonder how can people go by their lives, their days, their daily challenges without ever feeling the need to write things down or to let things "out" in and way shape or form. I mean, I need that all the time: I can't bare to keep things inside of my head, I need to put it somewhere - not necessarily share them with other people or talk about it - I mean literally take it out of my brain and somehow see it "outside of me".
I remember the first time I caught one of my students sitting there, without any piece of paper or pen or tablet or laptop - just sitting there listening. I approached him and said half-jokingly "You must have a very very good memory". He looked at me puzzled and said "No, I don't". I calmly looked at him and said "Well then, why don't you have a notebook, a piece of paper, or roll of toilet paper! Anything really, to take notes...??". Everyone started laughing but by then he could see that I was deadly serious. I decided there and then that no one could step into one of my classes without a notebook - full stop, no discussions. So one of the students once asked why is so important and so I gave them a speech on the importance of taking notes:
"Your mind is messy, like a fog, like clutter, like a loud market street in a busy day. There's so much chattering you can barely pay attention to one single thought for more than few seconds. They call it "the monkey mind". They call it like that to remind us that there's a crazy monkey jumping around in our heads...restless, aimless. We live under the spell of that monkey for most of our day. So I'm here to tell you that there's something you can do about it. A piece of paper is an extension of your mind, a powerful way to settle your mind, and silence the monkey. A notebook is where things start getting real, where the fog fades away and you see some clarity. Looking at a piece of paper is a bit like looking at a mirror of your own mind, the difference is: you are in charge now, you decide what goes there and what doesn't. I cannot tell you how important this is to me, and how important this must be to you too, because once you start to put some clarity in your head, everything else feels better, and you can somehow tell the monkey to calm down. Taking notes is understanding, is communication, is learning - do not take it for granted, you will thank me one day."
Not surprisingly I have a lot of notebooks...I could fill a whole library with them, and their represent, more than anything else, a vivid representation of my mind - it's my mind on paper - and there's very few other things I value as much: if my home is on fire, they'll be among the first things I would save.
It is for these reasons that I designed a class to show people why is important to take notes, and what exactly they can do with it. Things like jotting down a quote that came into your head, or visualising your life, expressing your thoughts or simply making a list of the things you care about. I designed this class to give people a hint into the right direction, which is to use a notebook every day for your own life and work regardless of who you are or what you do for a living.
Perhaps I have a mission, perhaps I need to make sure that every human being takes notes, perhaps this is what I'm supposed to do. One thing I know for sure is that there's no side effects to what I am preaching - you try it, you see it for yourself, you play with it: it's free, it's safe, it's fun and I can only see personal, real benefits to it.
Our mind is a powerful tool that needs some degree of control, a paper notebook is nothing but an extension of your mind, or if you will it's the much needed order in the chaos. Pick up a pencil, and jot down something. You'll feel better, you'll feel sharp like a black line in the middle of a blank page.