Paper Weight Champion of the World

I grew up with a childish notion, which led to an adulthood misconception. A philosophy I modeled my life around:

“Important people write things down.”

My parents wrote checks and paid bills. They read through stacks of paper and wrote letters instead of calling. They filled out and signed forms.

Teachers recorded attendance, graded papers and sent notes home. You never wanted them to write your name on the blackboard in that dusty substance.

Doctors jotted on charts using clipboards and fancy pens. They were frequently asked for their signature and people looked up to them.

TV shows portrayed lawyers, professors and corporate types surrounded by stacks of paper that needed handling. Always seated behind large desks with huge leather chairs, pen in hand and hand pressed to temple. Harried and fussed to get it all done.

In my youthful ignorance I perceived a measure of a man’s or woman’s worth to be in reams of paper; inches of paper stacked up waiting for pen to grace each sheet with ink.

Last week a client shared how she would sit at her desk and shuffle through papers, organizing files for her home based business. Her children told her that they loved sitting by her side watching her work, I couldn’t wait to grow up and play with all that paper. It looked like so much fun.”

I couldn’t wait till I had a job that required me to take notes. Jot. Scribe. This must be the origin of my writer self. I was shaped by paper. I am a paper doll.  

Today I take copious notes even if it’s not necessary. I have a slight obsession for pen and paper which is rooted in misperception. Keeping an open notebook on my nightstand in case words flow out of my dreams into my reality.

I have tons of drafted blog posts, letters, thoughts, and ideas that may or may not reach completion. Next to my bed I have a shopping bag full of new notebooks waiting to be filled. Does this make me matter to others? Not necessarily. Still I hold to this theory.

My kids won’t grow up with this false belief. The digital age has them facing a different set of challenges. Interruptions won’t involve setting aside stacks of paper but rather lifting fingers from keyboards; averting eyes from a screen.

For them, a person’s worth will be based on the interruptions from email dings and notification pings. The better the smartphone, the higher the position in the social hierarchy. A person’s value will be tied to the number of “likes” & “comments” or “favorites” & “followers”. They’ll be looking for real time stats of their importance.

Me? I am weighted down by paper. I am weighted down by believing I need to generate large amounts of words in print or by hand to make a significant contribution to the world. I am the paper weight champion of the world. How do I overcome this title?

We all know paperwork isn’t fun. It doesn’t convey a person’s value but the conversation with my client reminded me of my innocent views and how they still make themselves known in my life.

Just curious … What childhood observations shaped your adulthood choices? What beliefs did you have as a child about societal value of individuals? Am I the only one who looked at paper in this way?

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Comments

  1. What a lovely way to reflect on the mental weight of paper as the world becomes increasingly paperless! I too am a compulsive scribbler, even at uni I had to write down the first few pages of an essay before I sat down to my laptop. I think the process of writing things out is incredibly valuable though… You can’t just hit backspace, you have to think about the next word, the next sentence, the words, the order of your thoughts and paragraphs. It’s more laborious, which, in my case at least, makes it more considered. Maybe that’s why letters are such a pleasure to write and receive, compared to emails? To put pen to paper seems personal to me.

    • Thanks for sharing. I agree handwritten notes are more personal. It takes time and consideration. There’s something about seeing things scratched out or an arrow indicating you want it moved that helps me understand my own thought process. Paperless? Not possible for me.

  2. I write everything down on paper as well 😉 I love the fact that you keep paper next to your bed to record your dreams – I love doing this 😀

    • Thanks Dianne. Sometimes the writing problem I feel asleep to is solved and I need to write it down. I’ve been known to write in the dark so I don’t disturb my hubby. If it’s more than a few lines I’ll get out of bed and jot till my heart’s content. Thanks for reading!

  3. Phil Hanson says:

    This is excellent!! Writing and thought process!

  4. I write everything down too. I never thought it came from my childhood, but maybe it did! Good question. Maybe I had misconceptions that married couples who stay together never fight. That was certainly working, huh? Can you tell my parents are divorced? 😉

    • That would be a misconception for sure. Arguing and disagreeing is part of all relationships. It’s how we resolve them that make marriages strong. Early impressions can stay with us a long time. Thanks for sharing.

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