a gathering place

On NPR, on September 20th, I heard David Sedaris say that he was no different than anyone else except that he kept a notebook in his pocket.  He noticed and he recorded.  In the May 8, 2006 issue of the New Yorker, he wrote:  “For the past ten years or so, I’ve made it a habit to carry a small notebook in my front pocket. The model I favor is called the Europa, and I pull it out an average of ten times a day, jotting down grocery lists, observations, and little thoughts on how to make money, or torment people.”

In Writing Toward Home, Georgia Heard writes, “A notebook is a gathering place, a portfolio of thoughts and fragments…What moves me to write one thing and not another is the point…My notebook is a constant weight in my already-too-heavy black bag…Its presence always reminds me I’m a writer, and it helps me live a considered life that doesn’t spin by focused only on groceries, dinner, and car repairs.”

This is a gathering place.  Where reading and writing and life come together.  Words from the notebook I keep in my purse linked to a favorite passage or book…Looking up from a passage and attaching it to a moment… Writing here makes me more aware of all three.  Why is it we write one thing and not another?

Is a day full of breakfasts and pants left on the floor and haircuts so thin that it slips through the net, impossible to catch?  One way to find meaning is to notice.  Another to record.  I should let the groceries and the haircuts fall through but take the time to fatten up at least one moment so that it has enough meaning to catch.  I can swell an hour with the thoughts of someone who lived a lifetime ago.  Take a minute to see the red leaf that wasn’t there yesterday.  Pause a second with the white tail of a deer as he jumps the hedge.

Dillard writes that we should “labor with both hands at sections of time.”  Some days it takes both hands.

4 thoughts on “a gathering place

  1. Thanks, that was worth pondering. I’m going to make a note to myself to come back and read it again. But not in a notebook, it will be in a computer, with a due date. I hope that’s not against the rules…


  2. I love the idea of fattening up the moment “so that it has enough meaning to catch.” I find myself with a lot of free moments to fatten up while I’m standing by the side of the road, waiting for my dog to sniff every blade of grass within the radius of his leash.


  3. Cynthia, I love your talent for beautiful phrasing. I strive to be more diligent in taking time to “fatten up the moment” and I think your phrase might just stick with me well enough to help me do that.


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