I have now read three different translations of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Each one begins with some background information, details about the way it was written, and quite a bit of musing on what he was actually writing for. It wasn’t written as a book, nor for public consumption, but more as a personal journal or notebook. This got me thinking about my notebook and how it would be viewed if anyone stumbled across it after I’m gone.
A few people have asked me what I write in my notebook or what it’s for, and my answers are always abstract. There’s a bit of hand-waving and non-specific words because I find this almost impossible to answer. The general answer is everything. It contains notes about anything I think about. Thoughts, ideas, tasks I need to do, food orders, meeting notes – there’s not much that isn’t in there.
In truth, I consider it to be a personal self-help book. It contains loads of notes to myself on lessons learned and ideas to digest. It is both my instructor and my muse towards a better life. There are many notes that echo the meditations that Marcus wrote – words of encouragement to myself or a scolding for living wrong. It contains quotes I hear, things I want to research later, and all the other things that may be contained in a commonplace book, but with an equal amount of uselessness.
My notebook is highly personal, not because it contains anything embarrassing, but for the fact that it would be next to useless for anyone but myself (and you wouldn’t be able to read my handwriting). Embracing all of these manual processes is still fairly new to me, but I feel as if I have rediscovered a life hack. My notebook is always with me, stuffed in my back pocket with a pen, so I can write in it whenever I need to, and I couldn’t be without it.