A few months ago I was typing notes furiously into the tiny screen of my phone, my go-to source for dumping ideas when a pen and paper isn’t handy. I pushed “new note” as the ideas flooded out of my mind that morning; suddenly, as the program opened up a new screen, it stalled, paused for a long time, and then flashed and wiped clean.
I scrolled with my finger. That’s strange, I mused. Nothing was there. A flash of panic coursed through my mind.
I closed the program and opened it again. Nope, All gone. I was standing out in the middle of the marina waterfront in northern San Francisco, in the middle of a long run that takes me out and back to the base of the Golden Gate bridge on one of my regular routes. I had stopped to catch an idea that had popped into my head, and I was standing, writing, by the side of the bay, tapping furiously into my phone. My note was lost. Worse than that–there didn’t seem to be any notes at all.
Strangely, however, I also felt an immediate sense of calm. A wave of nerves passed through me, and then continued on. I felt the angst and also let it go. In an instant, it was okay. My ideas–well over 200 notes, written to myself in various moments of inspiration–weren’t physically present, but it was okay. I had created these thoughts. I could create more. The notes in my digital archives were lost to time, but the act of taking the time to write them down in the first place was not lost. You can’t erase showing up every day, even if the product disappears. You can’t erase the knowledge in your head, the mind that’s changed because of the practice, the way you now think because of the work you’ve put in.
My dad says the same thing about jobs—even if you lose a job, or walk away from one, or if you get bought out—they can’t take what you’ve learned away from you. You get to keep what you’ve learned. The ways you’ve changed aren’t erased.
I never recovered my 200 notes. The good news is that in the time it took me to write them down, I’ve cultivated a practice of creating ideas, and I can hold onto the confidence that I’ll keep showing up and keep creating new ideas. Perhaps even revisit old ones, with more sophistication. Even if we lost everything–all of the physical things we use to string our lives together–we would still be fine.
More than fine.
Some other fun + miscellaneous updates:
- Friday, March 22 is World Water Day, so now’s a wonderful time to consider donating your birthday as a way to bring clean water to hundreds of people if you’re looking for a new project or adventure. I did it last year for my 29th birthday and had an absolute blast (and made fun of myself along the way, among other things…).
- I’m in love with Adventure Sandwich, a new project to back on kickstarter that builds an imaginative children’s world out of cardboard. The world needs more of this!
- While I’ve been a bit quieter-than-normal in blog world (I’m actually surprised that so many of people have noticed and reached out to say so; I thought I was doing such a good job of keeping up with posting! Honestly, however, I’m deeply thankful to you for being a part of my internet life and this community of ideas and for all the wonderful spirits and minds I’ve met through these various journeys) — While I’ve been laying low, whoever, in the interim I’ve been enjoying wonderful conversations via the growing Facebook community of wonderful minds + ideas. Come say hello!
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