From Merely Mundane to Momentous Miracle: Observational Journaling

Thanks to Traci Smith for sharing this New York Times Magazine article by

After recounting her story of discovery – on the commuter train when a ‘digital dreariness’ compelled her to take out a notebook and ‘jot down everything’ – Kodé writes, ‘Since that train ride, I’ve made a habit of “observation journaling” — recording everything my eye notices, including the people, sounds, smells, noises and screens’.

Kodé did not invent this practice: French filmmaker Georges Perec describes it in his book, An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris, where he states that his intention, ‘is to describe “that which is generally not taken note of, that which is not noticed, that which has no importance: what happens when nothing happens other than the weather, people cars, and clouds.”

Kodé observes, ‘These transitory items and people might say more about our time than cathedrals or statues; they are what’s particular to our era and thus reflective of its ailments and ethos.’

Such observations can deepen our awareness of what is real, our appreciation of the ‘now’, our understanding of what is truly happening in the world around us, and within us.

Encouraging others to take up the practice, Kodé writes:

‘Phones, with their ability to transport you to other worlds, want to convince you that the one you’re stuck in doesn’t have anything worth paying attention to. But through my journaling, I realized something: We’re shoulder to shoulder with many universes; countless lives, hopes, dreams and fears as complicated as our own, all clustered in the same crowded shops, train cars and sidewalks. Why ignore all that?’

Why indeed?

Read the full article here.