The idea of reading other people’s notebooks, letters and diaries has always fascinated me. We can learn a lot about them from their work and their interviews and their life, but I think our most honest reflections come through the words we write without any censorship in our personal notebooks, not to be seen by anybody. It is to the silent paper that we pour out our soul, making ourself vulnerable, but gaining and strength and confidence at the same time.
I don’t remember where and when I came across the idea of a Commonplace Book – a place where you can note down important things you’ve learned, names, details, ideas, quotes, anecdotes, random scribblings, etc. – but I’ve enjoyed the habit of keeping one immensely. It’s like a treasure trove to store information and ideas in and revisit them at leisure or when you’re looking for some inspiration. It all depends on what you make it to be.
In my case, I chose to make it a source of support, filled with quotes that remind me why I’m doing what I’m doing and that I can do it. Most of the quotes are about writing, but many provide insights and wisdom about life in general.
“To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love.” -Jane Austen
“If you are willing to do something that might not work, you’re closer to being an artist.” – Seth Godin
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
“The more you are in the room working, experimenting, banging away at your objective, the more luck has a chance of biting you on the nose.” -Twyla Tharp
“A book too, can be a star, explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.” -Madeleine L’Engle
“There is nothing wrong with loving the crap out of everything. Negative people find their walls. So never apologize for your enthusiasm. Never. Ever. Never.” -Ryan Adams
“When you’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave”. -Neil Gaiman
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,And nodding by the fire, take down this book,And slowly read, and dream of the soft lookYour eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;How many loved your moments of glad grace,And loved your beauty with love false or true,But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,And loved the sorrows of your changing face;And bending down beside the glowing bars,Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fledAnd paced upon the mountains overheadAnd hid his face amid a crowd of stars.-William Butler Yeats, When you are Old
“The person born with the talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it.” -Goethe
“Try to be like the turtle – at ease in your own shell.” – Bill Copeland
“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” -Oprah Winfrey
A commonplace book is rather like a compact library. While in the library you have the greats waiting to dust them off the shelf so that they could take you on long journeys; in a commonplace book, a sentence or two by them is just as good. It’s like taking in greatness in tiny doses.