Methods for Remembering

On Remembering the Run: the Basics

  • After you finish, spend a few minutes typing up what you remember from your run and post it on your online log.
  • Keep a Notebook in which you write down things you’ve read or heard; ideas you’re working through, questions you’re pondering; poems and quotes you want to study.
  • Record your thoughts while you are running, after stopping mid-run, on your walk home, or after your return home, by speaking them into your voice memo app.

More Details

Online Log: RUN!

The primary way I remember things that I don’t want to forget about my run (or about what I’m writing/thinking) is by typing them up in my daily online log entry right after I return home at the end of my run. First I document my distance, my route, and the weather. Then I write about how I felt when I was running, what I noticed (saw, heard, smelled, felt), what I was doing, and what I was thinking about. Sometimes I also mention what I didn’t notice. I might describe what the river looked like, whether or not there were leaves on the trees, how spazzy the squirrels and noisy the birds were. I include the fragments of conversation I overheard and speculate on their larger context. I describe distinctive characters and ridiculous moments. I document the a-ha moments when a solution to a problem (writing or otherwise) comes to me, or I experience a realization/revelation. I post these entries on my public wordpress blog and I know that at least a few people read them, but mostly I post them for future Sara to revisit and to use in her writing projects or to consult for remembering past Sara and the world she inhabited.

So far, almost all of these log entries are typed on my computer at my desk. In anticipation of my central vision loss, which has already made it harder (and more tiring) to see the letters on the screen, I have started experimenting with dictating entries. My first attempt, in February of 2020, didn’t last long. I’d like to experiment with this more in 2021.

Keeping a Notebook

In addition to my online log, I also like keeping a notebook. I write with a Staedtler Triplus Fine Liner black pen. Sometimes I use crayons too. Recently, I started using crayola colored pencils for highlighting key ideas, embellishing the date, and coloring in block letters, which is interesting since, because of my cone dystrophy and color-blindness, I cannot always tell what color I’m using or whether or not I’m filling in the space I’m trying to color. (Usually, once I’ve read the color etched on the side of the pencil, my brain adjusts and I “see” the right color, but not always). Up until last month, I wrote in Mead Composition notebooks (2 green, 2 blue, 1 purple), but now I’m trying out a Field Notes notebook from the “Pitch Black” series. It’s bigger then their typical notebooks, but smaller than a composition book. My notebook focuses on notes about what I’m reading or writing or thinking about. It is not a diary but a record of what’s already been “said, read, or heard” (Foucault, “Self-Writing”). It’s also where I write poems and document the process of figuring out my poems.

The Plague Notebooks

I started writing in a “pitch black” field notes notebook on Jan 15, 2020, just before COVID-19 became a pandemic. In March, while writing in the second one, I decided to name these black notebooks “The Plague Notebooks.” Currently I’m halfway through volume 6.

Vol 1: Pre-US Infection (15 Jan – 24 Feb, 2020)
Vol 2: On the Brink, Wave 1 (25 Feb – 5 May, 2020)
Vol 3: Wave 1 (6 May – 30 June, 2020)
Vol 4: Denial and Gaslighting (1 July – 29 August, 2020)
Vol 5: Schools Reopening (29 August – 31 Dec, 2020)
Vol 6: A New President, Vaccines, A New Strain, A New Year (1 Jan – )

Once Vol 6 is done, I’m not sure if I will continue with these notebooks, although it feels important to keep writing in the Plague notebooks until the plague is over (which will hopefully be fall 2021 and not sometime in 2022). As my central vision gets worse, it’s harder to write in them–the lines are too faint and I often get lost on the page and write in the wrong place–and harder to read them. Before giving up, I might try writing less words on each page, leaving more open space.

Recording Thoughts

Further Reading

On Memorizing Poems

I love going and walking out in nature and just like hearing a poem over and over again because I love poetry and I want to hear it over and over again. How lovely to just have it in my brain so then when I’m standing in line the at post office, I cannot be thinking about the fact that I’m standing in line at the post office and I can just recite a poem in my head.

Paige Lewis on Paige Lewis vs. Tiny Things

But I do think poetry has enticements of sound that are different from literature. Literature certainly has it too, or some literature, the best literature. And it’s easier for people to remember. People are more apt to remember a poem and therefore feel they own it and can speak it to themselves as you might a prayer — than they can remember a chapter and quote it. That’s very important because then it belongs to you. You have it when you need it.

Mary Oliver in Listening to the World

see also:

Remember to Remember

I will not tell you anything today that you don’t already know, but we forget, we human people, and our elders have told us that our job is to remember to remember. And that’s where the stories come in.

Braiding Sweetgrass/ Robin Wall Kimmerer