Write for You: Tools for Understanding

by Nancy Casey

We have five senses. We think things up. We learn from the world outside of ourselves. We wonder about things and ask ourselves questions.

These are some of the tools that we use to move smoothly through the world as we experience it. They help us dress properly for the weather, avoid spoiled food, make friends, and understand ourselves. These tools help us gather information. Some of them even operate 24/7.

Today you will write down some of the information you have gathered from these sources.

Begin by folding the page in half so that the top edge touches the bottom edge. Then fold the page in half again the same way. Fold the page a third time so that the left edge touches the right edge. When you open the page back up again, it will be divided into eight equal rectangles or boxes.

Leave a little bit of room at the top of the page for the title you will add later.

Write one of these headings at the top of each small rectangle:

See – Hear – Touch – Taste – Smell – Ideas – Others – Questions

Under the headings for each of the five senses, write down the names of a few things that you can perceive with each sense right now. You can also write things that you remember perceiving with each of those senses.

Under the heading “Ideas” write down a few things you have figured out or thought up. Our minds make up ideas constantly. Sometimes they are complex thoughts about the meaning of this universe. Sometimes our ideas are mostly about lunch.

In the box labeled “Others” write down some things you have learned from what you’ve noticed in the world outside yourself. What have you learned from other people? Have pets or other animals taught you things about the world? Have you learned from a plant? from a book? from a rock?

In the box marked “Questions” write down some questions that you don’t know the answer to. Our minds are asking questions all the time: “What’s that?” when we hear a loud sound. Profound questions about the direction of our lives. Decisions to make about what to wear and eat for the next 24 hours.

You don’t have to fill the boxes in any order. You can skip around. If you get stuck, look around you and listen to your mind—you’ll find you are using some combination of these eight tools all the time. You are constantly taking in information about the world. Your mind is constantly trying to understand everything better.

When you have filed all eight boxes, give your work a title. Make sure the date is on it somewhere, too. Add decoration and color to the page as needed. Here is an example of what a person could write.

You can share what you have written by posting it as a comment below. You can type in your work. Or post a picture of it.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. Sometimes she teaches writing classes at the Recovery Center. You can find more of her work here. She offers (free!) writing help to anyone in recovery. This can be for any kind of writing project—resumes, letters, stories novels—email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.

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