“A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at them.” ~ David Brinkley
The quote above, discovered over thirty years ago, struck me as so profound that I immediately wrote it down and referred to it in all my times of trouble. It also resulted in the birth of commonplacing my life.
I cataloged my commonplace life in files marked “Mortar” and “Bricks.” The file folders aren’t organized in any particular order, but to read through them is to know all of me. Some of my commonplace collection is so searingly revealing that I hope they’re discovered and dissected long after I’m gone.
Call them the ghost of me.
I use the “Mortar” as my commonplace life cement, in the hopes that it hardens enough to bind and secure the “Bricks” that others throw at me.
In so doing, I am masterfully adept at sealing and securing the irregular and uneven gaps—brick by brick—to recalibrate the enormous weight of them in the hopes of creating a safe and stable fortress.
I regularly use the “Mortar” files to soften and equally distribute the crushing pressure from the vile files of “Bricks.”
Commonplace books were popular as early as the Middle Ages and used by writers and scholars as a way of cataloging and memorializing the knowledge they amassed from their life experiences— their loves, their peers, their mentors, their books, and their loss.
Commonplace books, also referred to as commonplacing, are similar to scrapbooks, but they aren’t journals and have no chronological patterns.
Every commonplace system is unique to its creator and serves as a window into who they are, their beliefs, their fears, and their passions. Commonplacing is, more often than not, a lifelong collection of revealing inspirations—the deep caverns of a mind laid bare.
Like so many others who have commonplaced for centuries before me, I have collected thousands of compiled gems.
And I often peruse them when I am questioning life, love, and loss. It is during my darkest hours that I comb through my treasured collection of musings.
My files of “Mortar” and “Bricks” have expanded over the years to include hundreds of Word docs, my blog The Teri Tome, my author website TeriSchure.com, my Instagram account AllDollhousedUp, and reams of hanging Pendaflex folders.
I would love to see my commonplacing passed down to later generations, to memorialize forever the breadth and depth of who I was.
“To all the bullies, abusers,
and brick throwers I have known:
It took a lifetime to realize
that I am a giant when compared
to your tiny ruthless selves.
People like you hide their insecurities
by bullying and abusing people like me.
You’re not powerful enough to
extinguish my light.
You don’t even know it,
but the evil you have sown is your curse.
Your sickness will undo you.
No one heals themselves
by wounding another.
You have no power over me.
The power is mine, all mine.”
~ Teri Schure