Thinking with a pen

You might think that thinking takes place entirely in your head.  You imagine a contemplative sitting on a rock in the mountains somewhere, thinking great thoughts.  There probably are people who can put complex ideas together that way, but I am not one of them.

To really think, I need to have a pen in my hand, writing on a pad of paper.  That's the technology I started thinking with, and it's probably the one I will go out with.  I write the thought, reread it, and add to it.  The ink on the page is a storage buffer--but that's not all it is.  In order to exist as a narrative thought, it seems, I must write it.  Even as I write, ideas appear, ideas that would have remained unthought if I was not writing.

I do have to be careful how I annotate and arrange these notes.  What seems clear when I write can be incomprehensible weeks and months later, when it comes to collate all the thoughts, and distil them into something meaningful.

If you're wondering, I'm a black rollerball on yellow lined paper guy.  Lately I've favored a 5x8 junior-size pad, in a taped-up vinyl pad holder, since that's easiest to toss in my bike panier.

I'll be doing this for the rest of my life.  Even if books disappear, I'm thinking that pens and pads won't, though perhaps, someday, an electronic version with the right feel of stylus on surface will appear, read my handwriting, and store the text in searchable form.  But scratching on a pad will always remain the visible manifestation of my thought.