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An Ode To Empty Notebooks

In between the bindings of every

empty notebook lives a sweet snippet

of comfort.

 

Paused, poised and balancing,

in the stoic arms of plastic and cardboard

is, like the bottomless, unexplored ocean,

or the great expanses of enormous outer space,

a realm of possibilities.

 

Empty.

 

Pristine is the parchment of

lovely, lonely notebooks waiting to solve

some strangers’ lament.

 

Upon that parchment

anything could be crafted.

 

Resplendent passages of other, imagined worlds,

Equations or calculations,

The adventures of pirates among the stars,

or goblins who live at the bottom of a well,

a murder by defenestration,

or a concoction of witches’ spells…

 

 

The waiting pages of a blank notebook are

perfect.

 

Unharmed by my own clumsy fingers,

influenced by the Poor Grammar Gods

who spite my syntax but give me the good

graces to realise only after the fact.

My poor handwriting,

My missed letters, and inverted ‘g’s, and backwards ‘E’s…

 

Every time I’ve seen the blotch form,

Noticed the hamartia of my own hand,

Wobbled, bumped the ruler,

Dripped the ink,

The likely hood of creating something

Faultless

Flutters, fleetingly

away.

 

Like pressed petals falling from those pages,

The possibility of perfection

Disappears.

 

And my immediate instinct has always been

To begin

Again.

 

I have ripped out page after page

because a small, simple error

reveals much too much.

 

I poise my pen above the perfect

and always feel as if I am ruining it.

 

A blemish blooms, and

that harsh damning word rises up

and lands and splatters and splays across

the paper, and

it becomes the only thing

I see. 

 

A filled page is a page

That can be critiqued;

A filled page

Is a messy one;

A filled page

can be wrong.

 

And I have learned how terribly easy

It is to pick and rip and throw in the bin

Tear apart, to yell: ‘I need

To begin

Again.’

 

I have innumerably slaughtered

My own happinesses with

The boundless need to be

Like that blank page:

Faultless.

 

In the pursuit of perfect,

I have taught myself

To seek a new notebook,

Rather than accept the one

I have already written upon.

 

And so here we are

With stack

After stack

Of poor, forgotten creatures

Who once yearned to be filled with magic

And momentous creations…

Forsaken and abandoned

In the war

Of perfectionism.

 

But perfectionism—I am coming to realise—

is less the pursuit of boundless excellence,

Or the display of our resilience,

the waltz of the

Meticulous and tough.

 

Perfectionism is the manifestation of the

harrowing fear

that we may never actually

ever be good enough.

 

With every new notebook,

Every spelling mistake,

And skipped word,

And error,

And smudge,

And smear of chocolate,

And drip of tea,

I’m slowly learning to

Finally

Find comfort

in letting things be.

 

When I want to pick at the scrawl before me—

The Cat’s Cradle of looping, loose

Letters and human error—

I now, instead,

Let myself breath.

 

For where could there be beauty,

where there is only empty?

 

An empty notebook, is a notebook

waiting

relentlessly

restlessly

judgement free

for what ever it is

it is going to be.

 

And now I know that empty,

Does not mean ‘perfect’,

Nor ‘comfort’—

 

‘Absence’ is not the way that hope looks.

There is no joy in empty notebooks. 

 

 

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