Invitation to Unplug, #1: Pen and Paper

Recommendation: Get a piece of paper. Get a pen. Put your phone in Airplane mode. Sit and write in silence for twenty minutes. Write something, anything, or nothing. See what happens. 

Because: In the past couple of weeks, my notebook—a basic, spiral-bound, college-ruled notebook from CVS—has emerged as an actual place that I can reside. It is a life raft. It is a quiet room before anyone has entered it. Most importantly, my notebook is a portal into the tactile experience of a simpler time. 


If the Internet demands that our every thought become public, the notebook allows us privacy. If smartphones are teleportation devices—blasting us instantaneously from city to city, from war zone to beach resort, from Congress to our friend's apartment, from Ferguson to Syria—a pile of lined paper does the opposite of that. It sits still. It waits in silence. It is a place where there is nothing to consume; there is only space to create.

Before I was capable of teleportation, before I was omniscient, before I could reach any of my friends at any time, I had my notebook.

I was a college student, walking across campus at dusk, taking in the tall magnolias the whisper of Spanish moss, my heart brimming over with the poetry of it all, my fingers itching to open the notebook and write.

I was a teenager on a trip to Vermont with my family, sitting on a fallen log, scribbling. 

I was a ten-year-old, in love with my new porcelain doll, singing her praises in the pages of my new soft-covered journal. 

For me, a notebook is youth, it is freedom, it is undistractedness. Paper and pen is where I learned to say my piece. And, just as we will return faithfully to the place where we first found a sense of God—for ourselves, not for anyone else—we will return to the place where we first learned to speak truth. 

Even now, writing these words in my notebook, I can feel the impact of the last ten years. I know that these words are destined for "my audience," "my networks," my website. These words will find new life in the digital realm. 

My generation is not made up of digital natives. We had analog childhoods, after all. We have adapted quickly to all this new technology. We've learned to reach out to each other through magic and teleportation. But we still need a little help reaching out to ourselves. Remembering our true home.

Let me know if you try it. Or if your handwriting has deteriorated. Or if you're already happily living in your notebook ... or your Macbook. <3