Yesterday I polished off my most recent journal. The beautiful blue, marbled book you see up there obtained on the Rialto Bridge in Venice Italy quite near this time two years ago.
I started on spiral notebooks stripped of their school notes. Then I received my first official black leather one for Christmas in 2004. I preferred the black leather journals for a while. Moleskine I tried but the margins are too close so with my atrocious handwriting, I had to forsake them. Then people started giving me journals, and I used those instead. A light brown, leather skinned cover with interchangeable inserts you could remove to store on the shelf as you completed them. (And thereby use the same journal for the rest of your life? How dull!) Another, dark brown leather. Sturdy leather but still not a hardback with heavy metal clasps to seal away your memories. Then my exotic purchases start. A baby blue leather hardback from Poland by way of Etsy. My beautiful marbled Venezia book. A more coarsely artistic hardback from Costa Rica -but apt, Costa Rica is more coarse than Venice.
And two beautiful dark brown leather hardbacks from Barcelona, Spain and Florence Italy which are not journals but make up my personal "bible" collection. Books of quotes and commentary I've acquired throughout the world and think offers guidance for those ultimate questions of "How does one live a good life?"
I write to understand the world.. I write to take an idea in pieces and make it whole. Especially for the journals, those insane emotional ideas. The wantings of the heart, confusions of the mind, general chaos and discord. I declare, "I need to know how I feel about this." I take them out and unwind them, binding them onto paper instead where they're easier to follow and track. Easier to trace back to a common cause or new revelation.
While I've always known the writing is my own personal therapy -heaven help the therapist that ever has to deal with duplicitous me- I didn't realize how it has also likely the cause of my good memory. Several days ago my boyfriend discussed breaking up for two weeks in November. "Two weeks? We broke up for like two days." I responded. In this modern era of technological time stamps, I have the data to prove it. But I don't need the data because I have the memories. I can hit play from the minute we broke up to the minute we got back together and watch the film of what I did, where I was, how I acted. Why do I remember and why does he not? Perhaps you think a breakup's significance is what makes it solidify in your brain space. But there are many nights, many kinds of nights, many kinds of facts, data and figures I can do the same thing with. So many I think it's beyond happenstance and merits the title of "skill".
With a family linked to Alzheimer's, I'm always on the lookout for a way to build a better brain. It would seems that the act of writing things down, while initiated for emotional relief, has lead to a competitive advantage in this arena. Science agrees. People don't often think of "exercising" the brain the way they do a muscle, on-demand and effective, but perhaps it is that simple. Write to build a better mechanism of remembering.
At soccer practice while doing ab workouts, my soccer coach commented. "I like watching Elise do workouts because she just goes somewhere else. Everyone frustrated or in pain, and she's not even there."
My memory palace is where I go.
A memory palace, as introduced to me by Hannibal in "The Silence of the Lambs" and as officially titled "Method of Loci" definition offered by Wikipedia.
"the method of loci', an imaginal technique known to the ancient Greeks and Romans and described by Yates (1966) in her book The Art of Memory as well as by Luria (1969). In this technique the subject memorizes the layout of some building, or the arrangement of shops on a street, or any geographical entity which is composed of a number of discrete loci. When desiring to remember a set of items the subject 'walks' through these loci in their imagination and commits an item to each one by forming an image between the item and any feature of that locus. Retrieval of items is achieved by 'walking' through the loci, allowing the latter to activate the desired items."
And so you start by writing to remember. Then you build a memory palace where all your memories reside together in ordered environment to explore at your leisure.