Out of nowhere, a spark. It catches and takes hold of your hand. An idea is born. Where did it come from? It pulses and seems to grow stronger and louder. It begins asking for things – your attention, your energy, all of your focus. Who is responsible for this? You look around and find no one. It’s your baby now –your responsibility to nurture into being, to shape, and to protect. It feels as though it came out of the ether. Except it didn’t.
I have always wondered about the origins of an idea. How we arrive at them. If they are gifts we are personally selected to receive from some higher being. Or if they were always there, and we just finally acknowledge their existence. Especially because mine always seem to come out the quietest periods of my life when it seems nothing is happening and my creative grounds have gone fallow. When I’m bereft of words and all my originality is hibernating, or on extended vacation to a destination I’m not allowed to visit. Probably someplace warm. With cocktails.
I could feel a season of quiet emerging this spring. My thoughts began changing tack before completely losing steam over the summer. By the fall I was tapped out. And for the first time, I didn’t worry that I wasn’t producing anything new. I just enjoyed the silence. Every growing season requires a period of rest beforehand. So when people asked what I’ve been up to, and ‘nothing much,’ came stumbling out, I knew this was somehow inaccurate. Because something was happening. I could feel it, I just couldn’t describe it.
Eventually, whether I am ready or not, the idea surfaces and pulls at my sleeve. Come. Now. It’s time. And I follow, scratching whatever fragments I can decipher onto a Post It that I later stick to my bedroom wall so I don’t forget. Like I did yesterday.
But what causes one idea come to life while others die on the page? Are some ideas just better nags than others? Sure, there are a few that were never meant for anything more than just my awareness that yes, I created you. And no, you will always be impossible. Then there are those I tuck away to discover later, usually between the pages of a journal I know I will one day return to – hopefully during a phase when I have more resources to give.
But the sad thing is my best ideas are those I never attempt. I sat up in bed last night wondering why this is the case. The common thread? These ideas typically require planning. (And funding.) And I’ve never been particularly good at planning. Brainstorming and executing have always come easy, but plotting and waiting? That was always for people like my parents. But now I’m in charge of me. And I kind of hate that.
It’s only taken me a decade to figure out, but being an adult also means project managing your life. As 2010 approaches I understand that I need to get my ideas on track if the good ones are ever going to be realized. I need to pick delivery dates that make sense. Do the research to make it happen. Stop relying on other people. And stay the course. Because it doesn’t matter where ideas come from, just that they evolve. And because my ideas are mine alone, so is the disappointment when they fail to fly.