Once a quintessential tool used when ink was the doorway to the written word, blotting paper is a highly absorbent material used for soaking up excess ink on a handwritten page. Historically it has been used in some form since the 14th century however, it became a commonplace item in the 19th century as paper became less expensive and more readily available. In the 20th century, it was likely to see blotting paper on most writing desks, often as a desk pad. With the advent of ballpoint pens, and more recently, technology, it has since fallen out of everyday use. Although the comparison of people to blotting paper may seem strange, stick with me as I delve deeper into the theory of how truly similar we are to this now-forgotten item.
I believe we metaphorically soak up and absorb the ink stains, the coffee spills, the food grease and the everyday messiness that gets left behind on our desks while we go about creating this tour de force that we have named life. I’m certain that our physical, mental, emotional and energetic bodies soak up the remnants left around us like blotting paper soaks up excess ink. We ourselves begin acting like that blotting paper desk pad absorbing the good and the bad, the positive and the negative and we do this without a second thought; however, I think sometimes the very best part of ourselves gets lost and left behind, simply forgotten in the process of living.
Each conversation we have, every emotion we honour within ourselves, every smile, every frown, each heartbeat—ours or another’s that we let into the pull of our own universe—they all matter. They all leave a mark, a stain, a tear, a memory of that event in our consciousness, and upon our blotting paper. We can trace our personal stories though the fibres in the paper and chart them like a map, unveiling the magic and the truth held within their grasp that we all are truly walking examples of how the world is an interconnected web, all cause and effect.
We blot up places and memories and people that we have experienced like they are a scrapbook we carry with us in our in our personal field of gravity. We often carry these things long after they have finished serving a purpose because that is our nature, our human tendency. We cling to them even if they’re not tangible in the traditional sense because we can still feel them with us.
We carry ourselves through life waving our blotting paper not like a white flag of surrender, no, but instead as a badge of honour, of survival, of pride, and of an expression of our very essence as we walk through each lesson and challenge we’re meant to encounter along our personal path. These stains and scars that are to be found upon it, upon us, hold a sense of safety in the old that we have painstakingly woven into our sense of self; it’s uniquely yours and nobody else can ever alter the impressions you have imprinted upon it. However, you and you alone do hold the power to change those impressions and in return, change your very way of interacting with the world around you.
Unlike the sheet of actual blotting paper you have the choice to make the imprint and carry it with you or to release and cleanse your blotting paper from the stains, the tears, and the weight you feel swirling over and around you getting heavier as time goes on. We don’t have to choose to carry the weight of the old or of the negative with us. I think many feel they find strength in what they carry with them, but I’m here to remind you that your strength comes not from what you carry but from what is inside you. We can instead choose the path of light and reclaim those integral parts of ourselves that we may have lost along our personal journeys, bringing about a more complete wholeness of self by using this concept of blotting paper as a tool, or more aptly perhaps, a mindfulness “hack.”
Thinking of ourselves in terms of blotting paper begs the question: Are we leaving ourselves too stained and frayed about the edges to be of use the next time we sit down to our desk? We want to leave our marks upon it, but we want to be discerning owners of our blotting paper since it represents our physical, mental, emotional and energetic bodies. We don’t want to use ourselves carelessly, mopping up the stress and frustration, heartache and loss, pain and loneliness in a thoughtless manner, forgetting about the joys of life, the happiness, the pleasures, the laughter and the successes.
Try making it a part of your daily mindfulness routine to release and let go of all the “other” you have encountered throughout the day that has been absorbed into your blotting paper. Let go and give back the energy and emotions you find that aren’t your own. Remember, your strength comes from within yourself! Disconnect from the people you have interacted with that are still with you, stained into your blotting paper and hold your own energy, your own experiences, and your own emotions, unmarred by outside influences.
Keep the good stuff that makes your heart and your spirit sing and dump the old, negative patterns or memories that are weighing you down. They have served their purpose. With intention, release them with gratitude for the lessons they have brought and feel them falling deeper and deeper out of your field of gravity. Releasing what is no longer serving us can, in return, serve us in ways that we can’t even begin to predict until we start the process of shedding the layers of old in order to welcome the sense of a new, fresh, grounded start.
It’s not quick and it’s not painless, but there is a beauty in the pain, and in the loss. There is beauty in the freedom of wringing out that blotting paper and knowing that you’re starting with a clean state, a slate you have cleaned yourself.
And at the same time, remember to call back those parts of yourself that you have left behind in your hurry. Where did you leave them? Call them back and blot them up, soaking them into your being, into your very soul. Feel them settle in the nooks and crannies that you hadn’t realized were laying empty within you. As you ground into the present moment sense the familiar sensation of wholeness that has come over you as your body relaxes within the comfort of knowing you are home.
Yep. People are a lot like blotting paper.
Read more on this topic in 7 Problems We Can Tackle With Mindfulness Training»
by Molly Murphy