It’s no secret that humans like to put things in boxes, literally as well as figuratively. There’s a sense of control that I think most humans crave and labeling something, giving it a name and definition, puts it into a neat little box that our brain has an easier time handling.
The particular box or label I’m writing about right now is that we have a tendency to label times of our life as “stages” or “phases,” as if we can quantify the events and growth that goes on between two points in time. Obviously life is a lot messier than we often give it credit for and a lot more complex than our labels would have us believe at first glance. Again, none of this will be particularly revelatory.
The point that I’m driving at is that I could say that I’m at a certain stage of life right now. I work full-time, support a young and growing family, chip away at a degree that seems ever less important, squeeze in some writing here and there, and generally try to remain happy about it all. The chief difficulty at this stage of life is that nearly every drop of my most precious commodity, time, is being sucked up the moment it becomes available.
While my body remains busy with all of these responsibilities, and travelling to and from them, my mind is often free to wander. And wander it does, at an incredible rate. In fact, it’s rather more correct to say that it’s free to spin, like a disc drive where the laser jumps frantically from track to track. The result is that I’m positively full of ideas. Ideas for stories, games, artwork, projects, hobbies, talents, plans a million other things. I’m filling up notebooks every month with doodles, outlines, and notes.
The reason that these ideas sometimes make me miserable, is that I have very little time to actually bring them into reality. In a single day I can end up plotting an entire novel but somewhere in the back of my head is the snickering imp who reminds me it’ll be years before I can even spew the roughest draft onto screen or paper.
This could get me very down if I let it, and it sometimes has. But there’s undeniably a bright side to it as well. I just have to turn my brain into a pressure cooker.
On the good side, the fact that my time is at such a premium means that I’ll only select the best ideas, the ideas that I’m most excited about or that I think have the best chance of success, to turn into reality with my precious creative time. I can flip through those notebooks and computer files until I land on something and say “That’s it. That’s what I should be working on right now.”
The other ideas get to hang out in the background, and yes, I do forget some of them, but for the most part they get to roll around inside my head, chipping the edges off of each other, sometimes combining into something better, sometimes fading into oblivion. My wealth of ideas grows as I grow, maturing with my accumulating experience.
Like just about everything in life, which it annoys me to constantly re-learn, it’s all a matter of perspective.