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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Keeping Track

                                                                   Mental Notes

The ideas can come from anywhere and at any time. The problem with making mental notes is that the ink fades very rapidly.”
Rolf Smith

I remember a class I had as a freshman in college. World Geography, taught by a retired Navy Captain, who spent most of the hour lecturing to the map, with his back to us. The class came right after lunch, my sleepy time of day, and it was all I could do just to stay awake. I managed that by drawing in my notebook and occasionally jotting down something the professor said. The young man behind me, Ivey was his name, came to class with nothing—no book, no notebook or pencil. He took not a single note and yet, when we passed test papers down the aisle, his was always an A. When I inquired about this phenomenon, he said, “If you ever listened, you'd make A's, too.” Beg to differ. The ink fades quickly on my mental notes—then and now.

Anne Lamott writes in Bird by Bird that she carries a notepad with her at all times so that she can jot down conversations, descriptions, details of encounters, random thoughts, and anything else that makes an impression on her. She transfers these jottings to note cards for later use in her stories. It's a great idea. Especially today, when our lives are so cluttered with activities and information, having a way to keep notes of what comes next would be very helpful. One of my sons has a cell phone with a stylus that allows him to write notes directly onto his phone. I'm envious of that.

Keeping track is important both in our secular lives, and in our spiritual lives. Having ways to remind ourselves of the principles of spiritual practice are very helpful in achieving what we set out to do. Affirmations work well for this. Having an affirmation that is readily available from memory is best of all, but if your mental ink fades quickly, posting a few sticky notes where you can't help seeing them is also helpful. My favorite, because of my tendency to analyze and judge, is: “I am determined to see this differently.” Others, such as, “Today I will harm no one, including myself.” or, “Today, I will remember that I am a child of God, and so is ____(name).” keep our energy clear and light. Affirmations, whether mental or written, direct us back to the path of positive intentions. Make a note of that.

                                                          In the Spirit,

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