Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Knights in White Satin

This is how I heard the Moody Blues song when I was a kid - a kid obsessed with all things "medieval" and spent my nights in Star Wars print cotton, reading about knights and dragons and fair ladies waiting to be courted.

It's pretty much a non-sequitur for you guys, but a friend asked me to write about "moods and productivity".  I guess the inspiration for the request comes from the fact that he (and I!) can both be moody bastards and tend to bounce from periods of excited insight and desire to produce to somewhat more subdued periods when we are convinced that our labors are for naught and our ideas are unworthy.

In my experience, the environment strongly affects my productivity.  The scene above was the site of a frenetic writing spell I went through over a course of 2 days when I hand wrote a couple of chapters of a lovely story in the tradition of Carl Hiassen or Christopher Moore...the relative ability to not think about anything more pressing than when I was going to get my next Balashi somehow freed me up to think about interesting characters involved in a whacky plot.  Of course, I didn't finish that novel, which may be fodder for a future blog post dealing with unfinished projects...

But back to moodiness and productivity!  I also have anecdotal evidence to offer that a nice walk (alone or in company) or a long run often sets my mind onto tracks of Ideas, and Plans, and Lists of Things to Do.  But a funny thing about (my) human nature is that tiny little setbacks to the implementation of the Ideas/Plans/LoTtD can absolutely blow me up.  Why is it, in that moment of setback (just prior to the blowing up) is it so hard to remember that original inspiration, that feeling of possibility that infused the moment of inspiration...and why is it so hard to remember to go for a walk when you're feeling down?

I have a heuristic I apply to my friends that seem stymied or "down" but that I often fail to apply to myself.  I ask:

Have you had enough water today?
Have you done any stretching /yoga?
When did you last eat and/or have a poop?
Have you tried going for a walk?

It's amazing how often this works and I don't have to resort to next level heuristics (which involve standing on a chair, lying in the floor, and possible doing a handstand.


  1. I should add that my friend gave me a "get off your ass" deadline to complete this post by 3:45pm...a sort of "shake of the shackles of your self-imposed posting block" challenge. At least, I think that was what he was thinking...

  2. -yes
    -oops, no

    I had a hilarious example of the "just take a walk" solution at work yesterday... I'd stare at the problem (a board that wasn't quite the right size for making a candy dispenser) and try to decide whether to find a different board or modify the programs. Then I'd walk away (refill my water bottle, etc.) and realize that I was being an idiot, I should just find wood that's the right size for the job. Then I'd go back to the shop, and stare at the board again, re-flummoxed. This happened twice, which I guess isn't much, but it was enough to make me laugh out loud when I realized what I was doing.

    Though it's possible to identify and correct our idiocies from within the pattern, it's much more fun to tell our friends how we're feeling and have them politely dope-slap us :-)

    Balashi, ymmmmm, sounds tasty.