A Sketch of My Past

By | February 27, 2015

On April 7, 2008, I received this book:

This notebook has lasted me 7 years. Time to move on.

This notebook has lasted me 7 years.

I have used it ever since to record thoughts, ideas, plans, sketches, short journal entries about feelings, and more. As I flip through it, I am simultaneously excited and frustrated. Excited because it contains hopes and dreams that are of deep personal interest to me. Frustrated because the same themes repeat themselves over and over, and as I look, I wonder, “Have I gotten anywhere in the last seven years?”

When you look back, what do you see?

When you look back, what do you see?

I find I’m constantly thinking about and recording:

  • Possible jobs
  • Places to travel
  • What to do with my life
  • Daily schedules
  • Ways to make money
  • Products to create and sell
  • Artistic endeavors
  • Self-analysis and reflection
  • Blogging ideas
  • Website critiques
  • Places I’ve been
  • Things I’ve done
  • Places to live
  • Goals
  • Future life plans

The following are a couple snapshots of the internal workings of my mind sketchbook.

A list of "Things I've Done so Far," which I started in 2008.

A list of “Things I’ve Done so Far,” which I started in 2008. (Click image to see bigger.)

What to do with yourself when you don't really have a job? Here's one daily schedule I tried to follow.

What to do with yourself when you don’t really have a job? Here’s one daily schedule I tried to follow.

Why would someone want a blog anyway? I brainstormed a list of my reasons.

Why would someone want a blog anyway? I brainstormed a list of my reasons.

I used to sketch my left hand every day. I don't do that anymore.

I used to sketch my left hand every day.

I went to Las Vegas for a conference, and was a little overwhelmed after walking the strip, so I sat in the quiet lounge area on the third floor of a hotel and recorded my thoughts.

I went to Las Vegas for a conference, and was a little overwhelmed after walking the strip, so I sat in the quiet lounge area on the third floor of a hotel and recorded my thoughts.

What should I do with my life? The eternal question, with many options.

What should I do with my life? The eternal question, with many options.

After seven years of this, there are now seven blank pages left.

And what do I have to show for it?

A sketch of my past.

This house is exactly how I feel about the theme of my sketchbook. It's kind of cool, but I wouldn't want to live in that space forever.

This house is exactly how I feel about the theme of my sketchbook. It’s kind of cool, but I wouldn’t want to live in that space forever.

Some days it hurts to look through this sketchbook, because it’s a big black constant reminder that I have been trying for years to get my life in order. And is it in order yet? No!

This book contains too many memories of things I’ve tried that haven’t worked. Numerous plans that have fallen through. Ideas that never panned out. Drawings I never finished. To Do’s that never got done.

I think what I’m realizing as I approach the next April 7 is that my life will never be in order. And this sketchbook is proof.

But life doesn’t have to be orderly to be fulfilling. There are also a lot of valuable memories stored within, a couple things I’m proud of having created, and ideas that I still want to try, but in a different context.

I can also look at some of the things I recorded that did pan out, trips I did take, adventures I did have, projects that did succeed.

I could dwell on the frustrating or forever relish in the satisfying memories. But I’d rather not do either.

My preferred take-away is an eternal one:

Learn from the past and move on.

As I retire this book to start anew in a fresh decade of my life, I remain ever hopeful and optimistic. And I am looking forward to seeing the first sketch of my future.


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