Chicken Scratch

I have a little black book.

If I’m wearing a jacket, you can bet I’m carrying it around with as much love as I might a companion cube, but not for the reason Urban Dictionary might define:

Name for a man’s pocket directory of (hopefully) promiscuous women (i.e. sorostitute).

(Besides, that’s what cell phones are for…)

No, I actually use my little black book about once a month, at my favorite cafe, where I can be seen at the counter sitting for a few hours combing that thing over, shiny pen in hand, and another, littler, non-black book open. At some point, some new member of the waitstaff will see both my notebooks open, can’t help but notice the contents, and exclaim, “Wow, you have TINY handwriting!” This is usually followed by, “My, aren’t you a handsome and irresistible beast. I’ve been working up the courage to, um… wanna go out?” “What are you doing?”

Kids, at this point, I want to lie with something seriously silly, something extravagantly fascinating, something told through an accent.

Kids, at this point, I unfortunately tell the truth. Much less fun. Way more meaningful.

What am I doing? Welcome to my church! No, this little black book is not my bible. Yes, this little black book does have lots of chicken scratch. When I come across an inspirational quote, a valuable phrase, or otherwise something that rings true with who I am or the person I want to be, I write it down. There are some books that are so dense with this kind of goodness that I extract the best lines and re-write ’em in wicked small font so that these pages are similarly dense: more goodness per page. So that’s this notebook.

In this smaller one over here is more chicken scratch. At the top, I write what is top-of-mind for the upcoming month in terms of goals, events, and concerns. With this as context, I then read through the gold nuggets in the black book. What seems most pertinent, I re-phrase and re-write in the smaller book, the latest pages of which I read during my morning commute.

So yeah. Short-term reflection with a long-term perspective. From this, I walk into the month better grounded in a written form of my… essence. I am centered.

In reality, this new member of the waitstaff has already walked off. And back. And off again. And back again. It takes me a little while to get this all out.

How do you center yourself?