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The graveyard of great ideas 🪦
This edition: written during a solo night in the backcountry. ⛺
As a writer, mother, and human, I rely on lists. I have apps to make lists and to sort lists into folders. I need a quick place to jot down business or article ideas and important items as they come to me. Without these tools, I’m pretty sure my head would explode. Or I’d miss a deadline. Or forget to pick up my kid from summer camp.
But every list-maker knows the list is never complete. The list always gets longer. The list requires another list to keep it organized. It’s a never-ending series of bullet points. And for an idea generator like me, it’s a form of torture to see so many of my ideas fall on the back-burner.
Time is an issue. So is energy.
Naturally, some ideas become unimportant and it’s actually a relief to cross them off without completing them. But then there are the great ones. The great ones you never get to. The great ones that sit there and die just a little bit every day until they join the others in the Graveyard of Great Ideas.
My graveyard sits in the corner of my mind, and every once in a while it reminds me that it’s there. It whispers and taunts me. It’s really my own voice, in my head, nagging at me for not getting my act together. How could you let that great idea die? I’m not sure this is some Elizabeth Gilbert Big Magic “the-idea-will-make-its-way-to-someone-else” kind of thing. These are ideas that could help me move my career forward. They could make money. I would enjoy creating them. And they might help others in the process.
But, alas. Time.
And then I remember the importance of priorities, of knowing our values and how together these things help us to determine where to put our focus. It’s as though my ideas need to go through several filters before they can come out of the bottom. And if they don’t make it through, they end up in the Graveyard. I like to think this all happens in my subconscious—that the important stuff naturally rises to the surface. It’s the only way I think I can live my life without constantly worrying I’m missing something important. Because, the reality is, we’re always missing something. We’re always making a choice to do one thing over another. For instance, right now, I’m typing this from a backcountry campsite, Taylor Lake, while I’m on a short solo camping trip. I’m doing this instead of being home with my family. I’m writing Field Notes instead of reading my book, or simply sitting by the lake in silence. Because this is what I want to be doing right now. It’s in alignment with how I’ve chosen to balance this week. As I write, I’m simultaneously spending some much-needed time alone, watching the final rays of sun light up the peaks as fish jump out of the lake’s blue-green surface. I look up between sentences and notice how the light is reflecting off the water and shimmering on the undersides of evergreen boughs. A loon calls in the distance.
It’s in moments like this that I care less and less about the Graveyard of Great Ideas. I’ll never have time for it all. And, in that, I find a sense of freedom. The older I get, the less I want to do. I want to be here to experience life.
It will be better to have great ideas go to the grave than to go to the grave myself only to realize I chose to stay busy and distracted, dwelling on all the “what ifs.”
There is much to be gained in the stillness, the nothingness. So, let ideas fall to the grave. Grieve them if you must. Then, let them go. One day, they may come back to you, even better than how you first conjured them.
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What’s caught my attention lately… ✨
I’ve referred to the We Can Do Hard Things podcast before. A recent episode had Glennon, Abby and Amanda in conversation with Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, but also one of the wisest people I’ve ever listened to (if you’ve never heard her advice podcast, go check it out at Dear Sugars). The episode, titled Don’t Let Your Dreams Ruin Your Life was a timely one for me.
A wee request… ✨
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