Back in my impressionable youth, I read everything Richard Bach wrote. So many of his ideas* guide my life even today. But one idea that absolutely charmed me was the idea of a magic book that, when you open it to a random page, tells you exactly what you need to know. It doesn’t tell you what to do exactly, but gives you information you need.
Sadly, such books don’t exist. So I decided to make one.
I saved up my babysitting money and bought a beautiful journal. Using my favorite fountain pen from my trip to Germany, I started copying poems, quotes and other bits of literature, Scripture, movie dialogue… Whenever I read or heard something that gave me a zing, I would record it.
I’ve been doing this for close to 25 years now, and now I have four such journals filled with my tiny, printed script. They paint a picture of stages in my life. There is a moment when the poetry of Mary Oliver burst into my life and was carefully recreated on these pages. I smile at the song lyrics that moved the 19 year old me… but I have to admit they’re still gorgeous. (“Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode)
The best part? They truly are magic. I have, in moments of sorrow, creative drought, or frustration, picked out one of the books, opened it up and read exactly what I need.
For example, after a recent sleepless, anxious night, I read this:
(Courage: the byproduct of fear)
I love technology. Pinterest and Evernote rock my world. My iPhone wakes me up in the morning and is the last thing I look at before sleep many nights. But they don’t have the same place in my heart as these little journals. My brain may embrace the digital realm, but my heart is firmly analog.
* Richard Bach gems from my “magic” journals:
We are each given a block of marble when we begin a lifetime, and the tools to shape it into sculpture. We can drag it behind us untouched, we can pound it into gravel, we can shape it into glory.
Argue your limitations and, sure enough, they’re yours.
You’re never given a wish without the power to make it come true. You may have to work at it though.
Every angry person is a frightened one, dreading some loss.
That’s what learning is, after all, I thought, not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we’ve changed because of it and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games. Losing, in a curious way, is winning.
It’s like, at the end, there’s this surprise quiz: am I proud of me? I gave my life to become the person I am right now. Was it worth what I paid?