Photos provided by Toban Dyck
We’re exploring the ways in which we incorporate analogue into our lives – through lovely conversations with dear friends and family members. For our second iteration of our Letters From a Friend series, we asked Toban Dyck to tell us about his Traveler’s Notebook and how he uses it. This is the letter he wrote – enjoy.
I use my Traveler’s Notebook sporadically. I’ve never used an agenda or notebook with anything even closely resembling a rhythm. I’ve come to terms with this. If you’re like me, and I know many of you are, don’t beat yourselves up for not sticking to a routine for how you use this or any other notebook.
Products marketed to make its users feel smart and thoughtful and stylish are troublesome. They trigger something in me that is neither thoughtful nor smart.
Every time I am seduced by stationery, I am confronted with the question of what’s more important, being smart and thoughtful or presenting as someone who is smart and thoughtful?
It’s embarrassing to admit how often the latter wins. I convince myself that Hemmingway and Didion didn’t care at all about how they were perceived, that they used these kinds of notebooks and that theirs were worn, full of loose papers contained by the elastic and were bursting at the seams with poignant observations on culture and politics. So, if I buy the kinds of things they likely used, then I will present to others similarly.
This logic is full of holes. That much is clear. But it’s not the whole picture. What at first may have been a superficial, impulsive purchase, could very well become something invaluable.
I have day planner and graph paper inserts in my Traveler’s Notebook. I use the planner when I remember how great it is to index my day first thing in the morning. And I use the graph paper to draw maps of the camping trips my wife and I go on and maps of my solo motorcycle trips.
Traditionally, I use graph paper to sketch building projects and I may do that with this pad, too, but so far amateur cartography seems to be a good fit.
The notebook fits easily into the tank bag of my motorcycle. It’s easily accessed for reference. And it comes with us when we camp.
Once the leather wears down from either age or use and the inserts are full of accounts of the adventures on which my wife and I have embarked, this notebook will be archived with all the others I have managed to fill over the years.
It’s not entirely clear anyone purchases this kind of stationary without a slight bent towards prioritizing style over smarts. We are only human.
I like my Traveler’s Notebook. I like products that are useful and made to age well.
We camped at Birds Hill Park recently and we’re soon off to Spruce Woods, so I should go and catch up on my map drawing.