Have you ever had an idea you believed was so brilliant, you set to work on figuring out a plan to make it come to fruition before you told a soul? A plan so vivid, so amazing, so life-altering that you couldn’t get it out of your head for days?
You dreamily focused on the idea during the continuing education lecture or during a movie, standing in line, sitting in church, while you were
and along with the burst came way too much energy and joy.
During these visions, you experienced such moments of clarity that you were astounded by your own intelligence. Within the bounds of such lucidity, you just knew you could create a legacy that would last throughout all of time, one that would make you rich, or at the very least, cause you to invent that perfect chocolate icing that could make humanity drool.
Well, I know exactly what you mean.
Like a shooting star that suddenly makes an appearance, ideas appear inside my head without warning. Explosions of insight that can divide the fog in my brain, spreading light and guiding the way, seeming to provide warmth and wisdom for years to come.
If only the burst would last!
In these moments, like you, I believe the insights will linger—sadly, most times they drift, lose steam, deflate and slink back to wherever they sprang forth from. And if I could find the source of the explosion —now that would truly be a worthwhile quest.
Yet in the meantime, chaos ensues, and when the flame dies out all that is left is rubble: a diary full of dreams and plans, usually a dirty kitchen, and an empty wallet.
With each new burst of ideas comes an instant energy, a thrust that feels as though it will never end, that it will go on forever and keep my latest idea burning brightly.
And if I’m not careful, I’ll find myself a registered passenger on several cruise ships,
enrolled in a degree program,
starting up a new business,
sauntering through pet shops, strange fashion stores, or nose deep in a cookbook that has the difficulty level that could rival Einstein’s theory of relativity.
All these unfinished projects glare at me from inside bookshelves, notebooks, cluttered countertops, bedroom dressers, garage shelves, and desktop folders.
I cringe when well-meaning and supportive friends check in on the last “latest idea” I had, but which fizzled out like a dying star. I dodge their probing questions until this too becomes unavoidable and impossible (I hate the accountability factor, but the burst causes me to tell everyone I know about my latest idea before I can stop myself, and yet, this mere act has saved my life on countless occasions).
Don’t get me wrong, I love a challenge and I enjoy stretching myself, but these ideas come on quick and strong, instantly becoming my only desire, a single-minded pursuit that catapults me into action and sometimes into a misguided adventure.
Like you, I begin the quest immediately and am carried along by my latest idea with more eagerness than the squirrel driven to find the nut at any cost. These ideas can have the clarity and pull of King Arthur’s enthusiastic search for the Holy Grail—and during those first few days there is no stopping my latest idea.
Though, I’ve finally noticed after all these years that in less than a week, I can find myself in the middle of the poppy field with Dorothy and her pals—the lion, the Tinman, and Scarecrow—lying face down, unconscious, with not an ounce of steam or giddy-up-and-go to follow through with my latest idea, or even to stand up and walk out of there with dignity.
It’s like a switch goes off. The mind becomes quiet and still, the introspection and clarity of thought gone, as though it had never been at all. Immobilized and empty headed, I reel and try to figure out what exactly happened.
With age comes wisdom, so they tell me. I practice telling myself this mantra, and I now have a plan to combat the reoccurring irrationality of my latest idea.
But with the burst comes a memory wipe of all things logical, as though catapulted into the land of the lost, without memory, without sense and logic for anything other than … my latest idea. And so, I turn to the beloved, and truly exceptional invention called the sticky note, to remind me of the important task of patience.
In between bursts, I pin these sticky notes to my walls and mirrors and refrigerator, under pots and pans, inside my make-up bag and on my shower walls. This task is a must, because when the burst occurs, there is no logic, no room for common sense and rationality, and therefore, the sticky notes prevent extreme disaster.
And so, I remind myself:
“Wait three days to act on your latest idea. Distract and deny. Go see a movie.”
“DO NOT ENROLL IN ANOTHER MASTER’S PROGRAM.”
“Ignore the urge to buy all those ingredients for French cassoulet, croissants, and homemade Soba noodles.”
“Forget about the remodel, helping the neighbor paint their house, and buying that small farm on the Canadian border. AND DO NOT APPLY FOR THAT COUNSELOR POSITION ON THAT NAVY SHIP.”
Reasoning out the origins of the burst
Some would dare to speculate and call these insights and urges—hypomanic episodes, adrenaline, having an entrepreneur or creative spirit, or simply the art of stretching ourselves.
Whatever! I hate labels.
But we all need accountability. It helps in situations like the above described, like the useful reigns on a team of horses as the buggy recklessly speeds down a mountainside to certain doom.
And saying the ideas out loud before we act can sometimes bring us back from the ruin of a costly and illogical journey.
And that’s why every now and then I plan on sharing, with anyone who will listen, my latest idea.
I’d love to hear about your latest idea; the one that didn’t make it out the door or down the street. Seems like even failed and deflated ideas need their moment of glory.
Creatively waiting for the burst,