Perfect Page Practice
Perfect Page Practice (or “PPP”) is something you can do every evening, after you have finished your work day and before you relax a little. It is five minutes of gathering up the beauty the day has brought you as a result of practicing the FORD Method.
It harvests what matters most about what you are doing with your life, in the exact place and time that you are doing it.
.And it records it and holds onto it, so you can share it with others and look back at it in moments you might need a reminder of why what you do is so meaningful — exactly the way that only you can do it.
What is a Perfect Page?
It is not flawless, first of all! I don’t mean THAT kind of “perfect.”
Instead, I mean “perfect” the way we use it in grammar: “completed, finished.” (Here is a “present perfect sentence: “I have written my page for today.” I have done it. It is over.)
PPP puts a period on each day by reflecting on what it has been like, and recording it through reflective writing. Which means the kind of writing that you don’t know what you are thinking until you write it down…and then as you read it, you continue to develop it and understand yourself better. Joan Didion said, “I can’t think at all unless I’m behind my typewriter.” It is kind of like that.
How do you make one?
First, you choose a writing technology.
It cannot be a computer: you need to use something that makes real marks on real paper, and it has to be something that you are not using every day for everything else.
It could be handwriting with a pen or pencil — but if so, I recommend you use a different script than you usually write with (i.e., cursive instead of printing), or even write with your other hand. This is because our handwriting is so close to our identity, and has so many memories and other associations connected to it. PPP is most powerful when the writing is a little separate from you.
Ideally, it is a manual typewriter. For a few important reasons:
Typewriters are single-use objects; when you are typing on one, you will never be distracted by an email or a social media notification.
Typewriters make letters that don’t look like they are “ours.” This gives us a little remove from what we are writing and lets us look at it more closely.
What are the steps?
You simply think back on your day, using the four steps of the FORD Method, and use reflective writing to make a record of who you were today.
Here are the steps:
- Find yourself right now, with a few deep breaths. Do you remember having done this another times during the day? What was it like?
- Open your senses. What do you notice around you right now? What did you notice the other times during the day that you did this?
- Regard your world. What beauty do you find around you, right now? What did you find during the day as you practiced this step? Did anything surprise you? Did you notice any patterns, or put things together in a different way? Did anything mystical or magical happen?
- Dwell in your place. What do you feel is special and unique about where and when you are right now? What did you notice was special during the day? How was the experience you had today only possible in this place, at this time?
And you write as you are doing this reflection. There is no wrong way to do it (remember: not that kind of “perfect”!). You can take the steps one at a time, or open to more than one at once. You can think before you write, or write while you are thinking (that’s how I like to do it). What matters here in the process, not the product — though the wonderful part about it is that you ARE making a product. One you can hold onto and use.
If you make a mistake or a typo, you don’t worry about it; maybe you backspace and type the letter you meant, but you keep on moving. You are creating the record of this singular day, in the specific moment that you are doing it.
And when you reach the end of the page, you are done. The day is perfectly finished, and so is the page. You date it, and remove it, and stash it away. I suggest you stash them in the same place every day — and don’t read them right away.
But do read them eventually, to remember the moments of beauty that are coming into your life as a result of your gentle, persistent decision to start to notice them. Read them to remind yourself of what matters on days when it is harder to remember. Red them to share with others who are opening themselves to the world the same way you are. Read them and use them any way you wish: they are your experiences, made concrete by your decision to write them down!
And eventually, they will become your wisdom, and will form part of the foundation from which you continue to grow as a powerful and present agent and advocate for the students and the community you serve.
Here are some of my Perfect Pages. Share yours with me if you’d like them featured here!