Choosing a Diary……what’s the secret?

diary

“Buy diary” it said on my to-do list.  Such a simple-sounding task, right?

Wrong.

My local stationery store dedicated one side of a long aisle to the mysterious process of diary-selection.  As I arrived to tackle this task, there was already one other young woman looking confused and tired in her quest for the perfect day planner.

“It’s a bit confusing, isn’t it?” I joked with the young woman.  She smiled broadly and started to laugh about it, “Oh my goodness yes.  How can you choose from so many?”

We exchanged anecdotes about how we would make our decisions, and then went about trying to choose a diary.

Naturally, all the colours I liked were only available in diaries that were too heavy, too big, too expensive, too something.

I was looking for a small, week-to-a-view diary, with a colourful cover, that weighed just a few hundred grams. Again – easy right?

Wrong.

More people arrived in the aisle – all looking for the perfect diary.  Men, woman, young, old, conservative, creative – which one would they choose, and how long would it take for them to choose it?

I felt that we could have created a “diary-buyer support group” right there and then.   We’d sit in a circle of chairs, sipping on water or green tea, looking worn out and hopeless, saying things like, “last year I thought I’d bought the perfect diary, but it turned out to be all wrong.  Too big, the font was too small….”

Or, “I thought a week-to-a-view would be enough, but I ended up scribbling all over the whole page just for one day.  So, in the end I just gave up and started scribbling on blank pages and pasting them in.”

Or, “You know, I feel like such a failure, because I bought a “day to a page” diary and then at the end of the year, so many of those pages were just blank.  I felt like I’d just had such a non-event of a year.”

Or, “I chose black for the colour, but it just kept disappearing into my handbag, and whenever I needed to refer to it, I’d spend ages digging around looking for it, looking so unprofessional and ultimately giving up and scribbling on my hand.”

Or, “The edges of the plastic cover were so sharp, I cut myself so many times, I ended up with blood on the pages, it was revolting looking back on all that dried blood on the paper.”

So, ultimately, I found my “perfect diary” – it was orange, week-to-a-view, spiral inside, but smooth covered, and less than $15.  I felt like such a champion!   I was leaving the diary aisle – in under 30 minutes!  I walked out, leaving four other people still staring at the selection of diaries, fingering the books, feeling the covers, comparing the prices.

I was out of there.

But, then when I got home, I realised – THERE WAS NO RIBBON.   I had failed in my quest for the ‘perfect’ diary.  Now I had to find a ribbon in the drawer – you know, the second kitchen drawer where all the “good stuff” is kept – and make my own.  I knew there was a reason I kept that piece of ribbon……

So, I’ve jotted some things in my diary, dutifully christening it and making 2017 “real” and active.

Now all I have to do is work out a way to use a paper diary in conjunction with an electronic phone diary.

Has anyone  mastered that yet?

I kidded myself last year that I would go big-time into the paper diary world but, really, who was I kidding.  There were too many blank pages as evidence that my experiment had failed.

So, this year I’ve downsized to a much smaller version and I hope that I can make it work.

I kind of like the ritual of diary-buying at the beginning of the year, and judging by the folk in the aisle with me, there are still a few of us who like it too.

I open my new shiny orange diary, full of hope and ideas for 2017 and I wish you all the best for your new year.

Don’t forget….if you want to make it happen, PUT IT IN YOUR DIARY.

 

Conversations – are we losing touch with our real world?

 

As I took the bus to the city last week, I saw three groups of elderly women chatting happily to each other.  Even though I was standing in the crowded bus, I was amused by them – smiling, laughing, regaling and just doing what comes naturally to women and, more specifically, people over the age of 50.

It was such a refreshing sight, amidst a sea of heads either looking down at their smartphones or staring blankly ahead with pods in their ears, lost in their own private musical world, oblivious to those around them.

There is usually one person reading a book, the good old-fashioned way.

Conversation as an art is still relevant today.  Successful business dealings require it, social events demand it, and life is a lot more interesting when the skill is engaged.

The bus ladies didn’t grow up tethered to any devices, other than perhaps the washing machine or stove, and viewed interaction with others as something to look forward to.  A natter across the fence, an exchange of pleasantries with the grocer, a cuppa after church, an animated conversation about the cut of meat best suited to that night’s menu – these are all mostly things of the past with domination of supermarkets and the decline of religious worship.

I saw how their eyes sparkled, these grey-haired elders – their genuine enjoyment of the moment and how central to their being was the art of conversation.  What would they make of the rest of the bus passengers, sitting silently or busily texting their conversations?

That brings us to the art of thumb-conversation.  Texting.  Messaging. I’m a bit old-school and text with my index finger – racing across the virtual keyboard much to the amusement of the younger generations.  It’s a dead giveaway of one’s age, no matter how young one might appear.  But, it struck me that the younger generations are still very busily engaged in conversation, in fact even more so, than their parents’ generation.   In fact, they are almost constantly in conversation, for better or for worse.

I’m also guilty of spending way too much time on social media and engaging in texting when I could call. But somehow, it’s become the norm. The desire “not to disturb” someone by actually calling and speaking to them.

When did speaking to someone become “disturbing” them?  And how much is too much texting?

Does this busy preoccupation with constant interaction leave any room for one’s own thoughts and feelings?    As much as putting one’s “two-bob’s worth” forward in a real conversation was sometimes a bit annoying, is the digital conversational world creating more angst in its participants because of the abundance of input from all directions?  All done so quietly…. But there in print, for you to read, re-read and, so often, misinterpret or be misinterpreted.

These ladies could speak to each other and make pretty clear what their viewpoint was, leaving no doubt at all.  The digital cohort, on the other hand, runs the gauntlet of constant misinterpretation, being held to ransom for a throwaway line, and the ultimate punishment, having their words shared in a public forum in order to mock, shame or embarrass.

I recall how happy I felt being watching those talking women……I saw humans doing what they do best.  Interacting face to face, sharing stories and passing the time with genial exchanges – a remnant of a slower time when engaging others in discussion was a real part of one’s day.

I believe that those little earphones are actually a blocking device to stop anyone talking to you.  Sitting next to an ear-phoned person one is not likely to ask them, “what do you think of the new development down on the corner of our street?”, and even if you got through, the reply would likely be, “oh, I haven’t noticed,” as their gaze returns to their MP3 playlist.

There’s another problem.  Does anyone actually look at their surroundings anymore?  I mean, REALLY look?  When not busy texting or scrolling through their music collection, is there time to notice the new trees that were planted on the median strip, the artwork in the public space, the shop that’s closed down, the old lady struggling to get off the bus, the person with tears in their eyes, the child about to step perilously close to the 3 lane roadway, the glorious sun reflected off the river, the spring blossoms peeking out from sleepy tree branches, the aroma of the rose garden in the dilapidated front yard of an ageing house, the birds pecking at the crumbs in the Maccas carpark, the lonely man desperately in need of a conversation, the great orb spider hanging in its spectacular dew-sprinkled web?

These and other things are what keeps me wanting to put down my smartphone when I’m out.  It doesn’t always work as I, too, have a busy life and want to utilize my time as best as I can.  But the feeling I get when I put it away and take the time to look around me at the people and things that make up this world, with all its imperfections, is still worth the effort.

These days I have to escape on camping trips to places with no phone connection in order to have real “digital detox” as they say.  Why is it we cannot simply switch the darned things off?

Next time you’re out, take a look around.  Who is sitting beside you?  If they are over 70 years of age, they will probably have a story to tell you that’s more interesting than any digital conversation you’re likely to have that day.