In my studies of Great Lives this year, I have found that many great people had a common practice of keeping a regular journal, diary, notes or a combination of all of the above. Such was the case, for example, in the lives of Emerson, Gandhi, Franklin, Da Vince and others.
I recently attended the 100 year anniversary exhibit in the Ronald W. Reagan Library, and was amazed to discover a secret finding as of 2010. In the spring of 2010, found in a box in the archives of the assorted Reagan memorabilia, was a cardboard box marked “RR’s desk.” In this box, bundled by rubber bands, were note cards penned by Ronald Reagan from 1952 until his death in 2004. He actually banded and catagorized them as Humor, On Liberty, On War, On the People, On Religion, the world, character, political theater, etc..
Many of his notes were given in addresses or in some way made it to the public forum. If it were worth thinking, reading, or learning, he recorded these inspirations and shared them. The notes he saved represent much of what he believed and esteemed as valuable and worthy of sharing in many different settings, from speeches as a governor, the President of the United States, as a father and husband, or simply to record and write things that resonated with his being.
A few years ago, I took to the practice of carrying writing cards in my pocket and always having a writing instrument handy. I used this to remind me of thoughts I wanted to expand upon and not let them “slip away.” I copied this practice from a friend who leads an ecclesiastical congregation; and have witnessed how he has captured many inspired thoughts that have come to him and used these cards to teach from later on.
We live in a world of high tech, high speed, high volume information; where most of our interactions are in texts, e-mails, facebook, tweets or similar e-spew. How refreshing it was for me, and somewhat validating, to have witnessed whom I consider a great man, capture and enshrine in a very personal way (hand written entries), documents that became his own Rosetta stone.
Emerson noted that his journal notes become the “hive in which he stored the honey of his mind as the bees of his brain produced it.” I believe we can capture much good in the practice of keeping notes; I am inspired by the “Ronald Reagan’s” of the world, and vow to do a better job of keeping the notes of inspiration and noteworthy things that I cull from my studies, experiences, and ponderings.
Let me conclude with one note of humor as written on a note, from the new book Ronald Reagan, THE NOTES:
Man had nite mares every nite- big savage animals crawled out from under the bed & attacked him. “Went to my brother and he stopped it.” “You’re brother is a psych.?” “No, carpenter. He sawed the legs off the bed.”
Keep good notes my friends- there is value in them.