The Commonplace Book

I joined a group of students and teachers at school that are keeping commonplace books. The first step is to find yourself a blank book that you like. Then, you write in it things that you hear or read and want to remember.

Wikipedia describes them as follows: “Commonplace books were a way to compile knowledge, usually by writing information into books. They became significant in Early Modern Europe. Such books were essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces were used by readers, writers, students, and humanists as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts they had learned. Each commonplace book was unique to its creator’s particular interests.”

So now I have a commonplace book. It’s purple and has a nice soft cover. But right now, it’s still empty. I also have an iPhone. The “notes” app is not empty. In fact, it has become, quite by accident, a sort of commonplace book. A place for me to keep all the little tidbits that I know I need to write down quickly before I inevitably forget them. The other day, I went through all my stored notes to see what was actually in there. I have saved profound or hilarious things my kids say that I want to remember (will come back to that one later). I have saved titles of radio programs I want to hear, books I want to read, songs I want to buy, phone numbers, addresses, websites, crazy swedish names and aisle numbers of things I want to pick up at IKEA. Even a full page of notes from a choral directors workshop that I attended. Not exactly all commonplace book material. But I did find a few nice quotes that I plan on transferring to the CpB. Here are two:

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be ignited.” – Plutarch

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but often it rhymes.” – Mark Twain

What I thought was of particular pertinence to my blog was the things that my kids have said. So many times, they say things and I think, I had better write them down. And I don’t, and I forget them. Special moments lost. But three times in the last year, I have used my phone to record quotable quotes from Caleb. I thought I would share some of them on the blog.

A year ago, we were driving home from school, and Caleb said, “When I’m a Daddy and you die, I will take care of Noah.” I just wanted to stop the car and give him a great big hug. It came out of nowhere, at least for me, and was a reminder that he is always processing what happened to Jared and to our family. We have always been very open about talking about Jared dying and I’ve been happy to see that over the years, Caleb, even as young as 2 or 3 has been verbally expressing his thoughts and questions about the subject. It’s good because I know that he has feelings and frustrations sometimes that he doesn’t understand or can’t express. At least, some of it is coming out.

Here’s another more lighthearted one:

This summer I decided to try driving us to Cincinnati to visit my in-laws. I broke it into two parts and we slept in a Spring Hill Suites in Washington, PA…with a pool. That was on purpose. We were in the pool from 8pm (when we arrived) until 9:30pm!! We had a room with a king size bed and we all piled in for a good night’s sleep. When we woke up in the morning, I asked them if they had a good night sleep in our big giant bed? Caleb responded: “Yes. I TOTALLY did.” That was followed by “I love this bed! Can we live here?”

I realize that I have no quotes from Noah right now, at least in my phone 🙂 Stay tuned.

Also, if you haven’t had a chance to donate to the Light the Night team, the walk is TOMORROW! We are at 76% of our fundraising goal and could use a little support (thanks to those who have already) to push us over the top! Read my previous post for all the details and a link to join and/or donate.

Thanks for reading!

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2 thoughts on “The Commonplace Book

  1. Becca says:

    What a wonderful idea, the Commonplace Book! I tend to jot things down all over the place, and it is true how quickly those wonderful ideas (and quotes) are lost. Your boys are adorable, by the way.

  2. Margie Keiser says:

    Thanks for your writing and for those precious quotes of Caleb! Also, how we appreciate the pictures from Team Jared and the Walk The Night and you sharing your thoughts. Recently I have walked our neighborhood of 14 houses soliciting for leukemia and have received a good response for which I am thankful. Thinking of you often, Margie

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