In a digital age

In a digital age

Whilst we live in a digital age the popularity of keeping a paper diary or journal has not waned significantly. People still love paper diaries and journals and the concept of a gratitude journal has grown. I also record experiences on trips especially before bed or when rising before the day.

Digital may be more convenient as it allows sharing to multiple platforms.

Holding a paper diary or journal has a very “material feel”.You can save them, revert to them! It’s almost like an artefact.

You can also cross out words and rewrite thoughts in a fashion that allows you to reflect on the past. And in going back you can even add to the page.

It’s your book, yours alone. At any time you can change your style, record your journey and even change your pen.

So now we get to the subject of an everyday carry pen or using the favoured acronym EDC. Sure we have covered other essentials such as EDC  knives and torches but have never touched on pens.

There are endless options from the simple plastic varieties bought at the local supermarket to the extremely expensive ranges bought in upmarket malls. So when I leave home I grab my wallet, phone, pocket knife and pen.

At night I put this all on a handkerchief for the next day. This is known as a “pocket dump”.And I always have a notebook to scribble my thoughts down. Every day can have an adventure component to it. That may be advice on an interesting destination or a web address to look up when planning a trip. I meet so many interesting people and get so much good info. I have to write it down. So what makes for a good EDC pen? Well to me it is simple, some come with a variety of gadgets which to me add little or no value. It is about form and function and being there when you need it. And in my case, I have a few favourites and often alternate from day to day depending on my feelings. On a road trip to record the adventure, I will pack two to three pens as you never know when a refill may run out. I also make notes so that I can refer to them when using photographs. Many years ago in Mapungubwe, a section ranger showed me an old abandoned army camp and two ammunition bunkers. I recorded the information and was able to recount it years later on a subsequent trip.

My biggest disappointment was a high-end fountain pen that it leaked every time I used it. Needless to say, I sold it.

Researchers are increasingly advocating writing experiences down saying that it increases comprehension and retention. Keeping a pen and a notebook means that you won’t be scratching around for a scrap of paper when you need to record something. On a trip, you can even keep them in your camera bag for ease of access. I’m not knocking digital, when going grocery shopping I  photograph the shopping list on the whiteboard and take it with me. Realise that you may lose a pen or leave it somewhere so high-priced pens should be left in the boardroom rather than the bush. I like a good-looking pen so aesthetics are important. So without further ado let us have look at my favourite EDC/Adventure pen.

First up is the Fischer Space Pen; This pen was developed in the USA as part of the space race, it can write underwater and upside down. It is compact but becomes a full-size pen when you fix the cap to the rear. The irony here is the soviets simply issued their astronauts with HB pencils.

Then we have two Lamy Pens; Possibly my favourites these replaced my expensive fountain pen, one is a rollerball and the other is a fountain pen. They are marketed as “Safari” pens, made in Germany they are well finished and refills are readily available. The pocket clips also hold tightly.

Then in my car, I keep a Boker Tactical Pen; Not for the tactical application though but simply for the hardened glass breaker on the cap which can be used in an emergency.

Another favourite is my silver Rotring Pen; The knurled tip allows for excellent grip under a variety of circumstances especially if your hands are damp. Once again excellent build quality coming from Germany with refills available at most stationers. A cool little feature is a ring near the plunger that allows you to indicate the colour of the ink in the refill.

Lastly, another German favourite pops in, it’s a funny little Schneider Pen; although the cheapest of the bunch, it has some endearing features. Although it is compact I like the rubber grip and the triangular shape which means it will not roll off a table. And it has a spare refill in the body.

Noting and documenting is an integral part of the adventure, the style may have changed from parchment, quill and ink to modern pens ( I still love a fountain pen ). And journals have become increasingly popular and are even linked to famous authors and explorers such as Ernest Hemingway and TE Lawrence. One notes sensory experiences such as the taste of a particular meal as well as thoughts, feelings and facts. Once you return home you can relive the experience and reflect on the fullness of the journey.

  • I have a variety of journals, one is a daily gratitude journal and the other one is to record information and experiences. Size is important so I keep a small journal that I can slip into the pocket of a pair of Cargo pants with my phone and wallet.
  • Don’t overthink things, write and sketch even if you are not artistically inclined, it adds personal value.
  • Observe and listen, often you find a real gem and it’s only a local that can impart information, it’s not always searchable on the internet!
  • Pick a pen according to how you feel or allocate a particular pen for a particular journal, I use my fountain pen exclusively for my gratitude journal yet may use it as my EDC pen as well.

Get out there, explore, record it and remember it. We all have an adventure in our DNA. You will never forget how you felt, it’s authentic and it’s yours.

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