I sat with a pencil and scrap of paper in a silent room and waited. All week I had that feeling of jammed thoughts and ideas… they just couldn’t come out in the daily hubbub. And no matter how many times I demonstrate to myself that I don’t need a huge slab of time for the mental productivity to begin, I continue to wait for an unplanned day or afternoon, an event that probably will never come.
Since I was quite young, no matter how long the journey, I always packed a book to read, paper, and pen (my mental image: 10-year old me and a stack of books in the backseat of the car on the 10-minute drive to the grocery store). I still do, because even though most of my actual writing takes place on a computer, it nearly always begins on paper, as a captured thought or some random scribbles that were part of my problem-solving process.
Today, my default when given a small block of time is to spend it swiping on a smartphone. I’m aware of it, but I still do it, and I see countless other people do the same every day. What I know is that this never gives me a feeling of time wealth. Most of the time I don’t learn anything new or useful, and those minutes just disappear from my allotted lifetime, completely insignificant.
But one morning last week, I sat with pencil and paper instead, even though I had only about 18 minutes. There was nothing initially… maybe a minute of sitting, poised to write. Then I began with the usual lists.. nothing interesting, but useful in planning my week: the meal plan, the tasks and schedules, the shopping list. The simple act of writing turned on my brain like a switch, and ideas began to flow.
I am posting this to remind myself to let the silence in. The thoughts swirl all day, every day, and I know that I lose most of them. Monkey mind is a specialty of mine. Picking up the pencil invites creativity to visit, and that can happen anywhere I might have turned to the phone.