In two days I am off to Kenya for a 10-day safari, well actually seven days on the ground shooting.
From the USA it takes roughly two days to get there and two days to get back. Then there are the in-country transfers. All of which cut down on actual shooting time.
But, the journey is more about one’s thinking than about time. Time disappears on journeys, there is never enough of it, so it is essential to compress it, remember it, and make notes.
This is why I keep something rather basic and non-tech. A note book and pen. Yep, simple as that, I note the time of day, what I witnessed, what I thought about at the time on a notebook with a friendly Pilot pen. Gosh, using a writing instrument and paper seems odd in today’s world, after all I do own an iPAD and an iPhone. But, you must understand, the sure joy of writing notes in one’s on handwriting is special. My handwriting is terrible, but I can read it, and in doing so I can remember the experience.
And it does not require batteries!
I can hand off my notebook to another. They can enter in their contact information, in their own handwriting. It means I can contact them later, especially if we share common ideas and thoughts. It is so simple.
I have a little notebook. It’s cover is of leather. Black it is with a way to insert new pages in a format common to such. Just click in additional pages. Sorta like a three-ring binder, except mine uses eight. It is small, it easily fits into a pocket. I can pull it out at mid-night somewhere between the USA and wherever. I can make a note about the aurora I just saw out the jet’s window. I can remind myself to buy some good ear plugs because a group near where I sit on the aircraft can’t stop talking, despite my need for sleep.
I can make notes about how difficult it is to find the right gate at Schiphol Airport. I can remind myself to drink more water and get out of my seat and walk around the aircraft.
Little stuff that matters.
And when I get to where I want to be, I can make notes about what I saw. The Dik Dik in the shadows. The Cheetah on the ant mount. The lion who walked in the wind. You know, stuff I saw and want to remember, glowing in one’s memory, a painting such as it is of that time, forever molded in one’s conscious, there to be remembered and cherished.
And then there are the people. How cruel it is not to learn about your driver on a safari, or the cook who just made you a meal, or the person who just made your bed? You should get to know them, how they fare, what their life is like, what their expectations are. After all, we are all of one kind, and we share the same ideas and expectations. I want to know about their families, their children, how life is where they live. I want to hear their thoughts about our planet, what they see on the horizons where they live.
I want to record such things in my little notebook, in my own handwriting. Hidden from the inspection of government, or anyone else, never to be exposed on the Internet. My thoughts, strictly mine, to read again and again. To enjoy and cherish.
As Hemingway said:”In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dulled and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well oiled in the closet, but unused.”
Or, as Byron said: ”If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.”
Or, as Eric Hoffer said: “It sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities, but its own talents.”
Keep a notebook, in your own handwriting. Refer to it often. The notes you have recorded will tell you who you are.
What you might find out is that your notes were as good as Heminway’s – only better, because your notes were unique, and profoundly yours.