A mind stretched to a new idea, can never go back to its original dimensions. –Oliver Wendell
I wrote a complete post for this blog yesterday, on the topic of mystery, more or less, and then somehow I lost it. I was exiting out of some old files and clicking “do not save” and must’ve gotten carried away because now that post is just gone. Deleted. Mystery solved.
Which makes me feel just a tiny bit sad, not so much because of the wasted effort, but because the spirit in which I wrote the post cannot be recaptured. And it brings me to this: Most ideas, if not acted upon, will disappear. We lose our motivation, our gusto for that particular path. I really liked the post when I was writing it, but I just can’t bring myself to start over with it. I no longer even like the idea.
According to Some Wise Person, if you don’t act on your impulse within five seconds, your brain will rush in to squash the idea. Our analytical brains come up with all sorts of conceivable and practical reasons why you should not try that new thing that just a moment ago your heart was saying yes to. If you get a new idea, and don’t take action in some way, right away, then the moment is lost.
Why is that? Why does our brain immediately try to talk us out of our ideas?
Because our brains are built for safety and survival. They are built to keep things the same, predictable and stable, so we won’t die. Only we aren’t cave men and women anymore, so this does not usually serve us well in modern times. We need to venture beyond our comfort zones, and take a risk now and then. It serves us to follow the Yes -do -that impulse.
It’s that first impulse in your gut. The split second one, the one your mind overrides almost immediately. That yes or no feeling to an invitation or an idea or a question. It’s the rightful action we take when we trust our initial feelings and don’t overthink it.
My Inner Editor is a ruthless bitch. If I allowed her to run the show, I would not publish a single word. I can have the impulse of an idea, then write something with all my heart and mind and by the next day, I cannot stand to read it. It’s too new, or controversial or messy or sensitive. If I don’t hit publish, the Safety Police will sweep right in and tell me all the reasons I will absolutely die if I write the stuff that came from my gut.
Knowing the kill-an-idea-before-it-ever-leaves-the-gate tendency of the brain, I’m trying to be brave and mindful about taking more action in all areas of my life. Less pondering or procrastination and more doing. To my relief, it does not feel reckless. It feels like getting things done. It feels like moving forward.
There is only one way to learn, the Alchemist answered. It’s through action.
*Alas, even my writing has to be simplified. I will be posting less frequently for a while so that I can move my book forward in a more timely fashion. It feels like what Paulo Coelho, author of the Alchemist, would call my Personal Legend, and the time has come to give it all of my focus.