I’m trying to finish my homework and go to bed, but my mind is racing. I have two things I need to remember to bring tomorrow, a worksheet to finish 4th period, and a question to ask my teacher during class. My brain can’t possibly hold it all, and I can’t relax for fear of forgetting everything. I pull out a piece of paper and write it down.
Getting a thought out of my head and onto paper relaxes me. I take comfort in the fact that it’s there, but that I don’t have to worry about it right at the moment. It stores my thoughts until exactly the right time, when I can do what I need to do and then throw the paper out. I love the tangibility of paper, a simple tool that offers nothing but what you make of it.
In addition to writing reminders, I use paper more personally to keep a log of the things that I think about. When I wake up in the morning, I write down any dreams I remember. This is a challenge, but is always interesting to read later. Before I go to bed, I record three moments from the day that made me feel good. These range from a nice thing that someone did for me, to the way a leaf looked as it fell from the tree outside my dining room. I circle the best of the three moments, and at the end of the week I pick the best from those. I find it fascinating that I can attempt to label just one moment from a whole week of moments as the absolute best, a herculean task by any other means. Looking back through these, it’s easy to notice patterns. A lot of the nice moments I write down have to do with driving, listening to music, or being with others, and I’ve never found a nice moment doing homework or procrastinating. In this way, I can see the things that make me the happiest.
I write things down in different ways, sometimes to rid a nagging thought from my mind, and sometimes to preserve it for posterity. I love the permanent feeling of a thought on paper. If I write to remind myself, this permanence assures me that it won’t be forgotten, that it will be there no matter where my mind goes. If I write to record my feelings or thoughts, it’s nice to know that I’ll be able to look back on them later. Thoughts on paper exist in the simplest way possible. They’re there, as much as anything can be. Just patterns of dried ink on a dead tree.