Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year, Old Notebooks.

Turning over a new leaf is easy. Fill one page in a crisp new notebook and you have increased its content by 100%. However, fill a second page and your relative productivity has already dropped by 50% and will decrease exponentially the more work you do. The first page is easy, exhilarating. This time, you are definitely going to write a best selling novel AT THE VERY LEAST, whilst probably inventing something brilliant to the infinite improvement of the entire human race and never again incurring a single overdraft charge because THAT'S HOW AWESOME AND IN CONTROL YOUR LIFE IS GOING TO BE. 

I am a serial purchaser of endless new notebooks and no matter how carefully and specifically I define the parameters for exactly how each notebook is to be used, they all turn out the same way: one beautifully put together title page (specifying in neat calligraphy said parameters), one neatly titled, dated and formatted entry and then five disparate pages filled with scribbled shopping lists, well-meaningly acquired postal addresses and excruciating attempts at my accounts which basically consist of me going 'nopenopenopenope' while frantically scribbling with my eyes half shut. 

So that is why I am considering a different kind of New Years resolution. Not a new leaf, or a new start, or solemn vows never to repeat x behaviour ever ever ever again, loose this, do that, learn the other. This year my resolution is more of a general philosophy; make the most of what you already have. 

This year, I will literally and figuratively fill all of my notebooks. This means not lusting after expensive leather bound moleskins, or forever chasing the lure of a fresh new page. It means completing things, even if they turn out to be flawed. Filling pages with pictures and sketches, lists, notes and stories, even if they are a bit dog eared. Not continually chasing new ideas, but sticking with old ones. Discarding an old idea once the first blush of inspiration has faded and exchanging it for a shiny new one can feel like progress, but much like buying a gym membership or an expensive juicer they are only worth the time and effort that you put in to them. 

I feel I have spent the last ten years of my life flitting from idea to idea and identity to identity (and of course, the subject of my rather laboured metaphor, notebook to notebook). I slept through most of the Doctor Who Christmas special but I did wake up just in time for the inaugural regeneration;

'But times change, and so must I...we all change. When you think about it, we are all different people, all through our lives and that's okay, that's good! You've got to keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear. I will always remember when The Doctor was me.'

This year I'm not aiming for a new face or a new body or a new outlook. I want to revisit all of my old faces, notebooks and ideas and find a way to make a whole that is not necessarily greater but that is tangibly the sum of many already existing parts. 

For me the danger of a New Years resolution is that they often focus on the product with very little regard for the journey. Often the product relies on an unrealistic set of parameters, handily set up to fail. I entered this year for the first time confident that I have everything I need to be happier, successful, productive and creative coupled with the knowledge that what is needed is not a fresh page, but a methodical reoganisation and, unfortunately, some moderately hard graft. 

I will however be buying post-it notes. Without post-it notes, life is meaningless. 


  1. An interesting resonant post. Sometimes resolution of things that occurred in the past is key to being fully present. Outcome depends on expectation - a flawed outcome might in fact be a satisfactory conclusion. There's much to be said for acceptance; of old faces, notebooks, ideas, friendships - and value in revisiting these occasionally, particularly the difficult, troubling ones, or those we might choose to forget. It's all a part of who we are - a long chain of cause of and effect that began a long time ago, before our own lifetimes perhaps.

  2. Also, why one or the other? We can enjoy new faces and old friends, no? Duality is certainly a useful model, but has limitations. Reality is plural, identify is fluid - an ever changing complex. Where is the "I"? Have you looked for it? Is it the thoughts? They are always changing, like the weather. Is there not always a tension as we try to assert an identify, an ego, our individualism - and yet paradoxically no such thing may actually exist?

  3. Hi, my name is Ed by the way. My profile doesn't give you much. I'm a 30 something guy living on the South Coast working presently in London. Anyhow, I liked some of your ideas and writing. You sound like a kindred spirit. Maybe you'd like to meet for coffee sometime?