Malwina Chabocka – Art & Design
Malwina Chabocka – Art & Design


Today is my birthday and I wanted to celebrate it by trying something new. I’ve long planned to revitalise my blog, but as much as I love writing +2000 word essays with dozens of references, these days I simply struggle to find the time for it so I’ve been thinking of introducing a shorter form to my blog. The idea of what exactly it could be came upon me last night, as I was lying in bed, unsuccessfully trying to stop my galloping thoughts. What usually helps with this nocturnal brain hyperactivity is meditation. And so I closed my eyes, focusing on my breath when an image of Marcus Aurelius came to my head. I had just returned from Greece, where I spent many hours looking at ancient artefacts and pondering the wonders of antiquity, but my relationship with stoicism reaches further back in time. The writings of Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Seneca etc. hold a very special place in my heart and I often return to them. Marcus Aurelius, the head of the Roman Empire (161-180 AD), and one of the most powerful people in the world, was also a philosopher who frequently wrote notes to analyse his beliefs, feelings, and judgment of self and others, in order to find balance, peace and focus. Meditations (Medieval Greek: Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν, literally “things to one’s self”), written in the form of quotations varying in length from one sentence to long paragraphs, are considered one of the best philosophical books ever written, and an excellent guide to self-improvement.

In this spirit, I would like to write my own “meditations”. I’m not aspiring to compose anything as profound as the stoic masters, I merely want to record some thoughts and reflections, in a straight-forward and perhaps naive way, helping me (and maybe others) find more peace in the face of daily challenges. No particular length and agenda, elaborate style or smart editing. Just simplicity and honesty.

So last night, as my mind was racing back in time, revisiting past events, and in particular points when I was faced with serious life decisions, I remembered something from early primary school. Back then, I had the most terrible handwriting, not helped by the fact that I was struggling with ADHD and could barely sit still, let alone hold a pen properly. But I really wanted to have nice notebooks with shapely letters and straight lines, so I’d put a lot of effort on the first couple of pages, and then from page three, the writing was deteriorating again, with words being misspelled and crossed out, ink smudged, and so on. Annoyed with my inability to keep a neat notebook, I’d often tear off these ugly pages and rewrite the text or start a new one notebook. I can’t remember how long this habit went on for but it was a compulsion I couldn’t easily shift.

Eventually, I have learned to accept my hand-writing, but the temptation to edit or correct things have stayed and is particularly visible when I revisit the past. Life is like a school notebook, I thought to myself last night. We so often wish we could tear off this or that page, rewrite ugly events and cross out nasty words spoken in fits of anger. But editing things out, other than blocking and denying our memories (which paves a way to long and expensive therapy) is impossible, and neither is starting a new book (unless one believes in reincarnation). And rather than editing things out, striving for one style of writing, one colour, uniformed size of letters and even spacing, you should find beauty in the mixture of styles, juxtaposition of exquisite poetry and common vulgarity, in stains, marks, and dog ears. I don’t think I’d enjoy reading Frida Kahlo’s diary nearly as much if it had been limited to its typed version. The scans of the real hand-written and drawn pages are what makes it so special, with ink bleeding through the pages and an abundance of marks, shapes and colours.

Embrace your imperfect notebook. Or, better still, celebrate it.

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