Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with leading you on a meandering tour of the virtual garden of delights and curiosities and thoughts that make up my world – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
A is for..
adversaria: a miscellaneous collection of notes, remarks, or selections; a commonplace book
Commonplace books have been kept by people for ages, and were especially popular during the Renaissance and later the 19th century. They’re meant to catalog knowledge and information learned from books, from mentors, and peers, sort of like scrapbooks filled with useful facts and concepts. Rather than the personal musings that is far more common in the journaling we do today, commonplace books were collections of words and works of others.
While I don’t keep a commonplace book per se, I actually do work with something I consider a hybrid. I keep a large basket that I fill with miscellaneous paper ephemera – postcards and interesting things that have arrived in the mail; bits of poetry I love; quotes I find meaningful; things I’ve printed off that intrigued me or sparked my curiosity; bits and samples of interesting paper and strange envelopes; an assortment of colors and patterns and words. I gather all these things like a well-trained magpie and simply set them aside, filling the basket with a paper nest of treasures. Then once a year, during the time between the winter solstice and the new year, I take all these bits and assemble them, along with plenty of blank pages mixed in, and create the journals I’ll use for writing during the year. As I’m binding, I tip in envelopes and pockets to tuck additional writing in, and create flaps to write on as well. I always end up with a myriad of secret things to fill and to find once again later.
As I’m assembling and binding these journals, I like to think that everything I randomly include in each is a little seed. I’m not sure what will grow from them, but each has potential.
These journals serve me well. While obviously I can write about whatever I choose, I find having these little “inspirations” to bounce off is immensely helpful and interesting. And because I’ve collected the material over the course of the year, when I look at it again it’s all fresh and new-to-me again, ready to reignite sparks.
Here are some photos:
I’m by nature a reflective person and I find great satisfaction in contemplating the world around me as a way of understanding myself more deeply. I believe we live in a deeply oracular world that offers us many clues, and that everything, including others, can be used as mirrors for seeing ourselves as well.
That, in fact, is what these journals are for me. I call them my without/within books. Using what is outside myself to mine for the treasures within myself. And to understand the world around me better as well.
I like what Mia Howell wrote: “The Japanese say even the other side has another side. We need to keep turning things over in our minds until we can see them in circles of motion, in spirals, in the complete roundness of their being, through all cycles of becoming, undoing, renewing.”
I love this concept – it’s something I strive for – folding everything back into wholeness.
What about you? Do you journal? Include things from others in your journals? Are as enamored of layers and secret pockets as I am? Do tell – I’d love to hear.