On the whole, I don’t have a problem coming up with ideas. However, they usually arrive at the most inappropriate times and sometimes so fleetingly that it is difficult to assign any substance to them. Alongside remembering people’s names, recalling the essential ingredient that triggered a full-scale supermarket trip, and bringing to mind the urgent items on my ‘to do’ list, my ideas are difficult to grasp hold of and so rarely get acted upon. They simply get lost. The ephemeral qualities of my own ideas and thoughts mean that they need immediate transposition to a more accessible storage space than inside my head, if they are to be of any positive consequence at all.
This isn’t a new phenomenon brought on by maturing years, but is rather, symptomatic of the way my brain has always failed to oblige by appropriately filing, or retrieving any given piece of information at a helpful time. And so, I have learned to take notes. Sometimes these notes are in the form of pictures, sometimes they are lists, and sometimes they are mind maps. Not maps of my mind I hasten to add – the concept that a map that actually reflected my mind might be in the least bit useful is one that puzzles me greatly. I attempt to order thoughts, ideas and information into logical sequences that might be helpful to reflect upon – and I add some colours to join things together in a manner suggestive of creativity and spontaneity.
Until recently, I thought that I had to accept the loss from most of my better moments of lucidity or inspiration occurring at inconvenient times. Now I realise that it is important to capture what I can, when I can. This weekend, for instance, whilst on a three-hour journey driving North, I pulled into a lay by and recorded a couple of sentences on the hitherto unused voice recorder app on my phone. They may well appear on a page here before long. The camera also helps – sometimes a photograph can be the trigger needed to bring back the idea or inspiration of the moment. These are the real joys of technology.
Once everything is down in solid state – so to speak – I feel better. I have something I can work with. I can look at my gathered resources and feel satisfied. It is all too tempting to leave it at that. Task accomplished.
Only the task of deciding what my next step is going to be when I finish my paid job in two week’s time is far from accomplished. Much research and soul-searching has been backed up with carefully recorded notes. Doors have been pushed, and strangely enough, none of them have closed, leaving me with more options than I am comfortable with and some choices to make. Aah! Choices. Alongside risk taking, choices could be what I enjoy least. What I really need is to find some space to stop and think.
You will see that I am beating about the bush when it comes to approaching the topic of this blog post. Finding space to stop and think is surprisingly difficult and it is such an underrated activity. It doesn’t look busy, and it doesn’t always have a measurable output. In a society where we expect each other to give instantaneous answers, respond to emails within minutes of receiving them, always be at the end of a phone, and to vote, comment and react on social media, it has become natural to respond and move on without a moment of reflection.
So here lies my next challenge. I will stop. I will not be afraid to take time and to take stock. I will create the space for thought and not fill it instantly with something else. I will consult my maker. And I will post no more here, until I have done so.