I have carried some sort of writing implement, and some kind of paper medium on my person ever since the Seventh Grade. At least since then, memory being spotty at best. Because of that same dappled recollection, I need to constantly write things down. Keeping notes of ideas, lists of things, a journal of events.
I have toted everything from 3X5 cards and a pencil in my shirt pocket to a small bound journal with fountain pen. (One can always transfer to more permanent storage at the end of the day.)
It has not always been consistent, and there are several holes in my records. However, one time, my habit saved me from a rather gratuitous butt-chewing from a supervisor who thought to inquest regarding something which had happened a month earlier. (It was his method of harassing his workers into submission.) I consulted my log, and gave full details, including work order number, calibration specs, and results. He came in breathing fire, and left with a wimpy “Oh. OK then.”
Over the years, I can observe a refinement of sentiment spread across a dozed notebooks of different size and composition from “composition books”, to loose-leaf in 5″ X 8″ format, to bound journals (very cheap these days). In them I can trace the origin and progress of my thoughts for good or bad. In them, I can trace the outline of my life (save for the non-recorded spots — ahem). In them, I can see the rise and fall of fortune, of friendship, of faith.
This leaves behind for my kids (if they don’t just chuck them in the furnace) a key to Dad. Parents often do not understand their children, I am told, but children more often do not comprehend their parents. In this age of the throwaway culture—throwaway artifacts, throwaway people, throwaway emotions and ideas and throwaway heritage – it is, for me, a means of fighting back against the ephemeral, the transitory, and the worthless.
There was a good article several years ago about the notebooks of famous people.
(Of course, it may be that men are not the only persons to have spotty memories, and the need to record things. My good wife has a compact spiral notebook in her purse at all times.)