Activity triggers ideas more than silently staring out a window – for me. Not that I don’t get ideas while sitting motionless in a chair, or motionless in bed, but I’ve found for me, the best source of inspiration is activity.
Sometimes activity at home or office, out for a walk, fighting traffic, or shopping in a store; robust physical activity seems to give the brain time for rest, for wandering, and for thinking – and presto, ideas come forth. Too many sometimes. Often too brief, when that moment of brilliance is not retained because I didn’t write it down and because some other idea bumped it off the front burner.
We know our brains don’t lose anything ~ they’ve been processing our thoughts, recording every activity, and running our bodies 24/7 since our mothers were pregnant with us …
Nothing is lost. If you doubt that, ask yourself where some obscure memory from your childhood or school days comes leaping to mind – where did that come from? Was it in a steel filing cabinet in an office, or more like an obscure file folder on your computer’s hard drive? Or thumb-drive?
We change offices and filing cabinets all the time, we get new computers – we delete files and documents all the time, we de-frag and compress data on hard drive … and soon, in a 5G world, we’ll have even more to store, move, manage, and ‘go looking in them’ to find some obscure thing we remember. For me, it is often a precedent document, proposal, or agreement from a deal I worked on years ago. I don’t have it in my memory, but I go searching on my computer drives.
Each time I get a new computer, I move all those files from ‘old laptop,’ or ‘old desktop,’ to the new computer. They are buried there and rarely called up at all. Those old files are like my ‘hard to find the obscure things’ brain, but the difference is – I can get my computer to find it if I plug in a keyword or phrase, and then wait a minute or two while my computer reads/looks at every document in this computer (and the several other predecessor computers’ data stored there). Nothing gets lost, nothing is impossible to find. Except, for those keywords or phrases – for those, I look in my head. I might see the face of the person in my mind, but I don’t remember the details of the transaction, the name of their company, the month or year – so I look for a fragment in my memory. Sometimes it takes a few trial searches, but invariably I find what I am looking for.
But that’s not the story.
It’s a bit, I expect, like panning for gold – the gold is obscure and hard to find, but lots of other things come through the river. The rivers of our mind, the flow of ‘everything our computer found’ for that keyword or phrase can be a virtual goldmine of ideas, of memories, and leaves me energized in ways I didn’t imagine when I started.
How to get started?
Go looking for something – look in a mall, a meeting, a conversation, a stranger encounter, or go mining your computer. Or look out the window, sit still, let your brain search its files. Everything you’ve ever done, every breath you’ve ever taken – all controlled by and recorded by that brain. We may not have the technology yet to fully mine all the data between our ears the way we can mine the data in our machines.
Until then, we need to dig it up ourselves.
Go for a run, take a nap, or stare out a window – set your brain in motion, let it do the work.