Lessons Unlearned

More than one year ago, I resolved to write one thought a day. This was December 2019. I did not anticipate 2020 would become such an interesting year to record on page.

2020 Resolution

Last week, I received on my door five copies of the book I created out of that idea.

SoT book

This is a story of small daily commitments.

 The Stream

I started it up on Jan 4th 2020, with this entry:

4 January 2020
Hello, World!

One more change. An infinite scroll. Just words.

A true Stream of Thought.

I have no clue what change I was referring to, but this brief note sets out the fundamentals of the design: (a) just write words, don’t use images in any way; and (b) capture everything in a single page.

Over time, the page ended up holding 348 entries. It’s a single page that weights 166kb, 15 times smaller than the last picture on my phone. So much for an image is worth a thousand words.

24 June 2020
Time can be created, if you know how.

The whole experiment took the form of a private Twitter of sorts. That privacy gave me freedom to throw everything in there: quotes, random thoughts, microstories, … most of it is too embarrasing to show in public. I love it.

6 January 2020
Rituals. Midlessly execute them. Do not think. Useful to get the mindset ready. Good to transition.

I wrote very consistently throughout the year because I made this part of my morning routine. Years ago, I created a sacred space between 6am and 8am that belongs to me only. Nothing can enter it without my permission. Everything I plant in that space grows. Sometimes it’s a beautiful flower, sometimes it's an stingy thistle, but it grows. I keep wondering why it is so difficult to sacralize more space against the demands of personal interaction.

5 April 2020
In the belly of a whale

In the belly of a whale.
It’s where you can find redemption.
It’s the last step before the puppet turns into a real boy.

Suprisingly, very little in the stream refers to certain extraordinary circumstances we all went through during 2020. Many of these thoughts were written during full lockdown.

13 July 2020

“Dad, if you fall asleep and then you die, will you dream forever?”

My older kid (11 years old), during a walk together.

Printing it into a book was a great idea. I absolutely love the physical object in my hands. It was always part of the plan. “My kids will read this when I’m dead.”, I thought. I’m immersed in a cliché mid-life crisis and I believe the need to create things that will outlive you is probably one more symptom.

20 May 2020
Small wins build up

These little projects build up a sense of accomplishment, and that heightens my spirit. Seems like these small wins have a great impact on confidence and well-being.

The book I hold in my hands is a miracle of small commitments. “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the Earth.”, said Archimedes. I have a similar feeling with the unexpected power of showing up every day to make a little progress on something. In a world with adrenaline overdose, it’s enlightening to see that you can produce even more rewarding results by patiently gardening an idea. Festina Lente.

11 January 2020

Crafting leads to noticing.
Noticing is paying attention.
Attention leads to love.

Stream of thought got a hold on me and I still do it today, but not as consistently. I opened the page to the public, you can check it out here. Precisely because it’s public now, I find myself censoring some ideas, which totally defeats the purpose, as I’m sure those are the ones you would be more interested in. Writing is undressing, but I guess I will have to commit to take off just one cloth at a time ;)

22 March 2020

Among Zhuang Zhou’s many virtues was his talent for drawing. The king asked him to draw a crab. Zhuang Zhou said he would need five years and a villa with twelve servants. After five years he had not yet began the drawing. “I need five more years,” he said. The king agreed. When the tenth year was up, Zhuang Zhou took his brush and in an instant, with a single flourish, drew a crab, the most perfect crab anyone had ever seen.

Read in Six Memos for the New Millenium by Italo Calvino