Travel and Tourism

The timeless pages

FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura - The Philippine Star

It’s December! Christmas is almost here. 2019, a year that to me just started, is ending. That is one of the differences between being old and being young. When you are young, time crawls by so slowly. When you are old, it whizzes past. Is it because when you are young you can’t wait to grow up and when you are old you seem to grow old too quickly?

Most people are busy buying Christmas presents. I have turned into a last-minute shopper. I never seem to know what to give other people. I now don’t seem to know what to buy for our grown-up children, who are now in a position to know what they want and to buy them for themselves. So I still don’t know what to give them.

However, I know what I can give the men and women who read me. In the rush of your Christmas shopping for everyone, why don’t you look for a notebook that attracts you and a gel pen in the color you like? Why don’t you start doing what Julia Cameron, a lady who teaches readers to be more creative, calls “The Morning Pages.” She wrote a book called The Artist’s Way sometime in the ’90s. I bought it, did it, and it helped me a lot. “The Morning Pages” is a wonderful way for us to get to know ourselves better.

Here’s how it works. You have a notebook that’s all your own. If you don’t want to waste money on yourself, which I think would be a pity, you can use your children’s old notebooks with empty pages. If you don’t want to buy yourself a gel pen with gold ink, you can use any ballpoint pen that’s lying around. The important thing is to take a few minutes each day and write anything that enters your mind (Julia Cameron suggests you write in them each morning, hence “The Morning Pages”). You choose what time every day if you wake up earlier than the rest of the household or after your husband and the children have gone off to work and to school. She recommends having your own writing space and sitting down there to write anything that enters your mind. It doesn’t have to be perfect, grammatically correct or correctly spelled. Just write what comes to your mind. You do this for at least a month and you will discover things about yourself that maybe you knew before but never articulated. It will slowly but surely help you know yourself better.

Julia is American and “The Morning Pages” concept is sort of tailored to the American lifestyle. Here in the Philippines, it’s a little different. My version of “The Morning Pages” I call “The Timeless Pages.” You write in them whenever you feel like. Of course, it is better to find a bit of time each day to write about anything that bothers you or thrills you, that amuses you or brings tears to your eyes, or you can write about a day when absolutely nothing happens. Just write something about yourself. It doesn’t have to be right or wrong. There are no right or wrong answers.

Please keep this notebook in a place that only you know about.  Don’t leave it lying around because everyone — your husband, children, brother, sister, housemates will read it maybe on the sly. You don’t want that.

For housewives, I suggest you write at siesta time, either before you nap or after you wake up from your nap, when no one disturbs you. For working women, I suggest you write it at the office and keep it there locked up. For husbands, too. I suggest you write it in the office and keep it there. This is a gift you give yourself. Believe me, it will lead to knowing yourself better and therefore you will deepen your knowledge of yourself.  Ideally you should do this daily. But if you can’t, then just do it when you can. Over time you will become a better person because you’ll know yourself more intimately. I did this for many years and it really helped me.

I think I had about 10 big notebooks handwritten with whatever nonsense I had for each day. You don’t have to re-read it or to edit it, unless you want to. It’s just to get things off your chest and make yourself feel better.

And here’s an idea: You can buy your children nice notebooks and a nice gel pen. Cut out this column and insert it in the notebook so they know what you’re really doing, and wrap it in Christmas paper. It will be like giving your children the gift of themselves. Or you can do it for our friends. See? I just gave myself an idea. I will do it for our children and our friends.

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