Two-bit Guru | Folded Paper | Photo of a folded piece of paper.

When I was a kid, it was common practice to tear an 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of paper from a notebook and with a #2 pencil make lists, sketches, notes, play hangman, slip messages to our friends. We traveled light in those days, no backpacks, only shirt pockets, jeans pockets, coat pockets, and that’s where we filed our precious pieces of paper.

In order to be stored properly, an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet was folded in half 3 times, always folding the long side so as to end up with a multi-paneled packet, 2 3/4 by 4 1/4 inches, exactly the right size to fit in a pocket.

My life these days is more often recorded on a memory stick rather than on the reams of paper I was accustomed to using in my earlier adulthood. But, as handy as it can be to make a note on a digital device, or record an audio reminder, or sketch on a smart whatchamacallit, there are times when I resort to that old-fashioned 8 1/2 by 11 piece of paper.

Paper has it’s advantages. You don’t have to turn paper on or off, or replace the batteries, nor is it necessary to click through a labyrinth of menus to find what you want. You can clearly read what you’ve noted on the paper and if it’s too small to read you can always make it bigger next time. It has thinness that smart phones can only dream of, if they’re smart enough to dream at all. A piece of twenty-weight paper is only four thousandths of an inch thick.

Paper is remarkably efficient at storing grocery lists, hardware store lists, notes, and a quick sketch or two reminding me of parts needed to make a cold frame heater. As items on a list get crossed off they are still visible if you’d like to remember that you bought bread yesterday, for instance.

The frugal trash picker in me comes to the fore when I contemplate this humble piece of folded paper. It has 8 panels on one side and, lo, there’s 8 panels on the other side, too. If you wrote small enough and had a magnifier you could create a pretty long essay on only one sheet of paper.

I’m not gonna throw out the smart phone or the other electronic doodads that ornament my life, but I’m sure as heck not going to give up on paper, either. When I’m done with that one piece of paper I’ll feed it to the worms, back to the soil from whence it originally came. It’s environmentally friendly, too.