Friday, February 22, 2013

The Commonplace Book

More and more, we live in a world of video.  People are so accustomed to communicating this way that some days my Facebook feed is filled with nothing but video snippets of favorite songs and home movies -- like I have time to listen to everyone's favorite song for 3 minutes each and try to divine what they are feeling, and then spend a few minutes with each person's home video.

I'm not trying to be misanthropic -- really -- but I just don't have the time to consume my information delivered in video format, especially not when I read and absorb printed material so quickly and completely.  That's why, this year, I finally started a commonplace book.

A commonplace book is somewhat akin to a journal, except that it isn't attempting to be a coherent narrative. Rather, it is a collection of bits of information, perhaps newspaper articles, quotes, and facts that don't fit into any other place.

Thomas Jefferson kept a commonplace book, as did many others of his era.  If it is good enough for Mr. Jefferson, it is good enough for me.

I am using mine (yes, you see a blank page here, because I'm not nuts enough to show you all of my secrets!) to collect quotes and facts that I want to remember but that I don't want to start an entire file for.  For example, we have a favorite room at our favorite destination resort, and I don't want to resign this little reminder to a file that I would have to dig out next year.  So, it is one of the first things I wrote in my book.

Or, I've been investigating the ingredients and properties of some OTC remedies.  Eventually, I might want to pull all this research together to help me make purchase decisions, but right now I'm just jotting down facts as I learn them and accessing these as I go.

So far, I've been keeping my book for almost two months, and I have about three pages of such information, along with quotes and ideas I've cut out of other sources.  I find that it is fun to read through when I'm trying to gain inspiration for the day.  And it is a great reminder that not everything has to be organized into discrete little files that are kept on the computer or in a file drawer.
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