Reflections in a Tiny Mirror

Over the last couple of months I’ve been doing #tinychallenges. Throughout the process of doing a small daily activity I’ve been presented with realizations about who I think I am, how I can stay motivated and what sorts of incentives work to keep me creative. Recently after a weekend deluge of “work-work” I had a moment of reflection that led me to realize that these are the things that I’ve been thinking about.

To this point in time I’d been thinking that the sole benefit of engaging with #tinychallenges was that it was making me more aware of the time and my surroundings (both corporeal and psychological.) I believe that absolutely setting yourself a goal to achieve on a daily basis, any sort, will lead you to a place of mindfulness that’s hard to deny. I also think that there are other shades of improvement that come through regardless of our ability to perceive them.

Who do you think you are?

When I meet people at conferences or in professional settings the question “What do you do?” comes up. Totally reasonable question that reasonable people can answer quickly based on whatever slab is present underneath their name on their business card. For me it’s always been a tricky question to answer. I’ve always been one of those people that takes on a new hobby until it kind of weaves itself into the fabric of my life at which point I feel like I’ve become “that thing.” I’m constantly struggling with balancing that checkbook to make sure that the things I really enjoy don’t get consumed by the new stuff. I’m really not a reasonable person and lately I’m realizing more and more like my job title might not described all that much about me.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

I wish that I was one of those hyper-interactive people that you meet that seem so utterly infatuated with what it is that makes you tick that you almost think it’s forced*. I feel regretful in a way for having skated around conversations with the people like that whom I’ve met in my life. I know now both because I’m older and because of this new headspace that I find myself in that there was a multitude I could have learned from them. See the thing is for me it’s always been curiosity. Not just run-of-the-mill curiosity either but the kind informed by having the kind of parents that constantly told me that I could achieve whatever I set out to do. I get stupid-curious to try something and then before I know it I’ve spent days trying to prove that I can’t.

This doesn’t always work-out: RC airplanes, driving a boat (sorry Kent), the list is legion. But when I actually can do the thing… wow. I started programming because I wanted to write a game on my first Macintosh. I was an art student at a school to which no programmer or person interested in programming had likely ever applied. Most probably there was a conversation where someone made a passing suggestion that I “just learn to program, do it yourself” and part of my subconscious took it like a high-noon call-out.

Nothing but net.

Whatever it is in your life that gets you to the place where you feel like you can make stuff might just be the most important thing in your life. If I was sick and dying I’d still want to uncover secrets from safe little corners of creativity.

I’ve had plenty of down days while I’ve been doing #tinychallenges and so many more before I started. What I can do now that I couldn’t do before is see those days for what they are. The jobs we do and the lives we lead all require these components from our selves: make good decisions, work really hard, spend a lot of time focusing on others needs… At some point the small part of your brain stops you in your tracks and says, “Hey buddy, time to pay-up.”

*foreshadowing?