For stationary addicts, perfection can be confused with an empty planner. The pristine page – symbolising a whole, untouched year – is so daunting that you hesitate to put a blot on it, because what if you ruin it?
Well. I propose another way to look at perfection. And obviously I’m operating from the assumption that there is such a thing as perfection, even though I know that can be debated. But we’ve all experienced something we felt was perfect – a day, a movie, a piece of music – but that perfection isn’t universal, or valid for everyone. It’s not an objective fact – it’s a subjective fact.
Which, you know… aren’t they all?
But let’s not go down that rabbit hole today. I’m just here to propose, on the third day of the western new year and the cusp of breaking all those resolutions, that perfection isn’t a new beginning. It’s what comes at the end of a messy process full of dead ends and mistakes. You don’t put pen to pristine paper and produce perfection from scratch. Nothing grows out of perfection – it’s perfection that does the growing: it’s the end product, and it literally needs some shit to give it life.
Take a flowering apple tree: it didn’t spring into existence from a perfect void. It grew from dead leaves and dirt.
So why do some of us view the emptiness of infinite promise as perfect, rather than the end product? Because we haven’t put our (imperfect) stamp on it. We haven’t ruined the thing with our less-than-stellar Stuff. We haven’t yet revealed our new 2019 life for what it is – “a mingled yarn, good and ill together” (All’s Well). Perhaps it feels messy and wrong to fill a pretty book with pain and confusion side by side with euphoria and hope.
Is that the problem? That the book only seems pretty until you fill it with your ugly handwriting and your slightly non-noble thoughts? That the year looks promising until you’re a few days in and you realise you’re the same person you were in 2018, with the same insecurities and baggage?
Well, you can’t fix a shitty self image in a day. But maybe you can get somewhere in a year? Maybe it’s not in January we should judge ourselves, but in December? At the end of the year, when the planner is all filled out, maybe that’s when you’ll see the beauty of it. Maybe your ugly handwriting improves in hindsight, when every page is covered in the same illegible scrawls, making the whole thing a kind of abstract pattern.
And maybe a string of bad days can take on a new and beautiful meaning as you look back on them and realise that holy fuck, you actually survived that!
This new journal hobby of mine is quickly spiralling out of control. I’m now branching out into junk journalling, which is when you recycle scraps of paper and other materials to make notebooks. Many of the stunning work I’ve seen on YouTube and Instagram are very romantic and as far from minimalistic as you can get. Count me in!
My latest haul from the thrift store! 🙂
Which I’m now ripping apart…
… and staining with tea and coffee to make the paper look old.
The stained paper will soon join forces with postcards, flowers, silk ribbons, and lace to form new books!
And if this horrifies you, remember that these books I’m destroying would probably never have been sold anyway, so in the end they would have been burnt. I mean, come on: a booklet about the history of banks? At least I’m giving them a second life. 🙂
Okay, reeeeally long story short, I’m ditching my current journal and starting a new one where I’m dividing it into sections for different themes – like work, home, creativity, weeklies, trackers and memories, and so on. This is against the spirit of bullet journalling, but let’s face it: this is no longer a bullet journal, but a slowly junkifying art journal.
That rose is not one of mine, by the way. I cut it from a gardening magazine.
I’ve been kind of a coward with my journal so far, just trying to keep within some kind of imaginary parametres, but last weeked I was hit by inspiration (=YouTube videos) and started remaking my journal into a more flamboyant, whimsical thing with Random Stuff, because I like Random Stuff.
Like pink tissue!
Isn’t it more inspiring to be met by this rather than a blank page? I don’t have much lettering skills (or rather, the patience to apply them) so the frame becomes all the more important.
This is the cover page for my tracker/memories section. A quote from a ’60s newspaper, some bookmarks and more tissue paper. Flowers and butterflies: fleeting but possible to capture anyway.
Cover page for March. I’m a bit synesthetic, and March for me is pink. I’m going for a candy wrapper/gift theme. This is a pocket for stuff that happens in March (like tickets and things like that).
In my old journal I had one spread for all my projects. Well, that quickly went downhill. I have so many projects, I need SPACE! So, a section for home projects…
… work projects…
… and time specific stuff, ie weeklies and task lists. I asked my brain what it associated with that section, and it replied “work horse”: the heavy duty part of the journal where things get done rather than dreamed about. So I started drawing a horse, and it was ugly as hell, so I googled ‘horse’ and ended up on a promo site for Westworld, and thereby hangs a tail…
More to come as I delve deeper into the mysteries of art/junk journalling! *happy dance*
Why is it that when we need time to recuperate and be a little less productive for a while, some of us beat ourselves up for not reaching our “usual” standards? And why is it that “usual” standards are often the level we manage when we are at our peak? Shouldn’t it be some kind of middle ground instead?
Sometimes we need to do nothing. To know that yes, in a few days we’ll have to do well at something or other, but that’s way over there in the future. For now, we can rest.
Bujoing has helped me see the things I actually do instead of the things I don’t do. Maybe it can do this for others as well. Instead of constantly focusing on the future and what we haven’t done, we can go back over the pages and see the things we dreaded last week, the giant hurdle we braved last month, and feel satisfied that we pushed through.
And while on the subject of bullet journalling, why beat yourself up over the gaping holes in your habit tracker? So you needed a few days off. Who doesn’t? Be sensible: you’re not going to clean the house every day for the rest of your life, no matter how much you believe it while you’re drawing up your habit tracker.
By all means reach for the stars and reach the treetops, but don’t reach so hard that you dislocate your shoulder. It’s fine to fall off the wagon. The wagon will be there when you want back on, and guess what? You have the perfect getting-back-on list in your habit tracker. A few tasks in and you’ll feel like you were never off track!
Be kind to yourself. You never know when you’ll pay it back. 😉
So my next week is all planned out, and I went for a candy colour scheme because why not. Outside is all pinks and baby blues, so this reflects in my journal.
The rest of January is also set up by now.
I have my calendar…
… my project master list…
… my complaints page, my list of things learned, the pat-on-the-back “Well done!” page, Today’s Bonus, and the menu/entertainment spread…
… and finally my indispensable “home pages” where I jot down notes about all my projects.
No excuse now to lose my way as I venture into 2018!
Incidentally, the way forward is equally clear outside, for which I owe a debt of gratitude to the snow mobile crowd: they create these perfect, hard paths through the woods. If they didn’t, I’d be knee-deep in snow on my walks!