There’s something about keeping your hands busy when your brain feels broken. […] We’re wired to turn chaos into order. Randomness into meaning.*
I didn’t eat lunch alone, I ate lunch in Castle Rock, Maine, with Stephen King. I’ve hung out with Jane Austen. I’ve curled up in corners with Toni Morrison. I’ve climbed trees with Louisa May Alcott With a book in my hand, I was transported.**
Each morning, as the day begins, I look up at the sky .
The tendrils of trees reach up into its vastness and I wonder whether I’ll see birds flying across.
All of this took such a long time of preparation before I could ever enjoy it, life exploding for me to enjoy the light of day.
Even as we let ourselves consider the wonder of just being here, we know that it doesn’t always feel so great. Cal Newport writes about how knowledge workers can find themselves lost, wondering whether they are producing anything worthwhile, falling back on more predictable things to measure – emails sent and replied to – calling it ‘Busyness as Proxy for Productivity.’^
We can all feel like this at times. We can all lose sight of what it is we really want to be doing.
Austin Kleon confesses at the beginning of one of his weekly newsletters:
I was sort of off this week.^^
What to do when we are feeling off?
Kleon turned to solving problems. These days we can binge on the latest Netflix series, but this is more likely to just put off feeling the off-ness, the lostness.
What we can do when we’re feeling off or lost is to invest in our attitude, how we’ll approach things.
Possibilities include reading a book, going for a walk, looking up at the sky and explore the shapes of the clouds, working with our hands – drawing, collaging, fitting curtain poles and the list goes on.
“What’s your best discovery?” asked the mole. “That I’m enough as I am.”*^
We can lean into our attitude – indeed, we can understand attitude to be the way we lean, no matter what. Kelvy Bird shares how:
After one or two years of dedicated journaling, where I wrote the words alongside sketches, I realised that my style – my true voice – was going to have to be something new, to me and to others.^*
One or two years!
But add up the times you felt odd or lost and one or two years may seem like a bargain.
Back to the beginning of the day, and how it took billions of years of preparing before I could enjoy it, a few years more towards identifying our voice, our colour of productivity, are worth their weight in gold. As Wayne Dyer clarifies:
When you change the way you see things, the things you see change.⁺
(*From Austin Kleon’s blog: The Cube (in praise of solvable problems).)
(**Shonda Rhimes letter to young readers from Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick’s A Velocity of Being.)
(^From Cal Newport’s Deep Work.)
(^^From Austin Kleon’s newsletter: In praise of solvable problems.)
(*^From Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.)
(^*From Kelvy Bird’s Generative Scribing.)
(⁺Wayne Dyer, quoted in gapingvoid’s blog: Unlock the key to happiness.)