Hugh Prather’s Notes to Myself or Notes to Me

by Rachel Baker on November 16, 2007

Notes to Myself

Today I was reminded of a book I read way back in early high school. I remember buying the book, and I remember sitting down and reading the first four hours I was home. I remember thinking Hugh Prather had written this book just for me!

Interestingly, this particular book has been on my bookshelf longer than any other. I had all but forgotten about this book. The cover is yellowed and stained. The pages are crinkled and warped. The book has the beginning smells of an old musty book. Guess what? The passages are marked up by yellow highlighter and starred with pen. There are no page numbers what-so-ever, which I remember as striking me as sort of exciting. And this particular book was published in 1976, though its first publication was in 1970. I bought it for $7.00 and it is selling on an antique book site for very close to $20.00.

This book is Hugh Prather’s Notes to Myself – My Struggle to become a person.

I leafed through the book today, looking for the particular segment he talks about “finding new ways to be” ourselves. I had to giggle when I opened the book and saw my teenage handwriting marking the identity of this book as mine, and the statement “there are several good quotes in here.” I found I had marked ideas I could use for a presentation for the youth group I was a member and officer of. Even at the young age of 14, I recognized that I had a knack for “analyzing life instead of living it” and realized I didn’t want to just analyze.

Today, several things jumped out at me. So much so, that I actually felt a strange sense of that “Oh shit!” recognition. At 14, I was beginning to realize that I had to understand my flaws and try to figure out how to embrace them and use them in such a way they didn’t cause detriment to my relationships in the future. I also knew I was insanely afraid of silence after an argument and what that could mean. I recognized then that I wanted to not just ever “HEAR” what someone said, but instead “FEEL” what they were saying, remembering that “deep emotions are often expressed in irrational words.” I saw today, that way back during a really rough time in my “being” I recognized both the negativity I was portraying and other ways of looking at a situation.

Was this the beginning of my journey? No, I don’t think so. I do think this book was the catalyst for an epiphany. This book opened me up to my first real beginnings of introspection and self-realizations. Did it change my life? Maybe, maybe not. Who knows if I would have looked at this type of stuff on my own. Maybe I would have decades later.

All I know is finding this book on my shelf today was a great experience. I saw where I was and where I began, and was able to look at where I am now and how far I’ve come in accepting who I am and enjoying the person I’ve “become.” Do I analyze life? Yup, but I try to live it, as well. Do I forget sometimes that no one else is responsible for my feelings. Yes, but I do my best to take responsibility for them, sometimes unfortunately, its after I’ve blamed someone else. Does silence still frighten me after an argument? Absolutely! But I’m learning to look at silence differently, as a time for reflection instead of a time of disconnection.

Hugh Prather’s Notes to Myself was a great find for me today. Little did I recognize this book, long forgotten on my bookshelf, would continue to have an impact on my life some 19 years later.

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