I do not think I’m wrong when I say I know some of the busiest people on the planet.
If you were to listen to the list of engagements they have going on during the week, your head would spin. I hate that phrase but it is true. They all happen to be actor/photographers who also like traveling. But that’s another story…
The point being, is that we’re all busy. We have our own versions of it. Our cultural conditioning has turned us into get-things-done machines that just sort of…go. And go and go.
Recently I was writing a simple paragraph to outline a recent trip. Ten days on the North Shore of Minnesota. It felt like it was short and relatively uneventful. I thought to myself, “Well I spent all my time driving, drinking coffee while editing photos, and hiking.” Looking at the written out version, it would appear that I had had no free time at all.
I looked at the list and muttered to myself, “Did I really do all that?”
So while taking a bath* and not going anywhere fast I had a thought.
“I wonder if a friendly reminder and permission to slow down might be what someone needs to hear right now.”
This image does not embody slowing down in the literal sense. In fact it’s a mess, I should get on that. Rather, look beyond the piles and think about what you see.
Obviously books. What kind of books?
Notebooks, journals, folders of loose papers, hardcover books with white parchment. This is the complete collection of travel writings and journals I have kept on adventures over the years. Not including those on old computer hard drives. They don’t photograph well.
So can you imagine what I’m going to say to you write (foreshadowing pun) now?
The next time you lock the door behind you for a weekend visit or longer road trip, take some time to practice your handwriting with a little journaling. Dial back the technology for just a second. Slow down and breathe. Make the last thing you do for the day, to reflect by penning down some of your thoughts and feelings. Ooooh, gooey feelings! Just do it, you’ll be surprised how valuable those are ten years from now.
Last weekend was a whirlwind. To sum up one small portion, I caught up with two old friends I met studying abroad in Norway. It was a mystical get together, one friend living in Chicago and it just so happened on the same weekend that I from Minnesota and the other from Michigan/Washington/Virginia (you never really know where he’s living) were all in the same place at the same time.
We had a blast. So much so that I absolutely need to make a journal entry about it. Nine days later, memories fading, I’m still saying that. I have to and I will.
I say this because, as I said, we are old friends. Logic would say there was no reason for us to stay friends. We met in another country. We all travel and live in different parts of this country. Thirteen years have passed since we all met.
Yet in that time, I’ve hitched out to Washington to volunteer with one of them at Mt. Rainier. I sometimes fly from Chicago because it’s cheaper and I can visit the other. We’ve carpooled to Virginia for a Friendsgiving. We’ve carpooled in a snowstorm to do a Polar Plunge in Lake Michigan on New Years. We’ve shown up for each other after the loss of a parent.
Thirteen years ago, however, I had no idea all that was going to happen. I had brought a giant journal to document all of the exciting things I was doing and people I was meeting. Even now, that journal is largely empty and the stories of all of us meeting are all but forgotten to me.
I wish I had taken a moment, maybe even once a week, to slow down and write about some of the events. Who I’d met at a party. What I was thinking or feeling about school. The name of a street I lived on. Mundane details that now would be interesting.
Life was moving so fast there was no time to think about it. Life’s cruel joke is this. It is only going to move faster. Take just a little time now, to slow down and enjoy it.
I guarantee you already have what you need. Pens, pencils, scraps of paper all work. However, I do have a recommendation. Within that mess of notebooks in the photo above, there are micro-environments that are organized. Those were from the travels where my journals consisted of Moleskine (not Moleskin, that’s very different) journals. They have been my favorite for long trips because they’re small enough to travel, small enough you can fill a whole one, and you can organize them over time.
The other reason handwriting and journaling has been on my mind lately was running across the ‘Art of Manliness’ podcast with an episode titled, ‘The Power of Penmanship‘. Since I have been practicing my own, albeit less than a week, I have enjoyed the slower pace of creation. In the episode he interviews a master penman, which is a real thing, who continues to teach the craft. I put his book, ‘The Art of Cursive Penmanship’ on my Christmas list and ordered a handcrafted dip-pen from Ukraine.
That’s just how I roll.
If you want to save more time by taking the decision making factor out of gift giving and no one you know would ever touch a pen or cursive handwriting book, I have put together another gift-able list for adventurous types.
Truth in advertising. Though intentionally inspirational, this article does include affiliate links. Making purchases of recommended items or anything else through those links helps support The Spur Trail and allows me to keep on writing. Thank you for your support.
*Whenever I buy my first house, I promise you I will be buying one of those fancy, artisanal bathtubs. I don’t care if I don’t have a front door, I love baths so much and I can only imagine how much better they could be. I mean, you think shower beers are great? Imagine not having to stand. Yeah, I know. Your mind is now blown. You are welcome.