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The Business of Choosing

I’m not a surfer, but I imagine them bobbing about in the swells, deciding which wave feels like the best for an epic ride to the beach. On some mornings writing feels a bit like that, with a series of false starts and bits of poetry and verse toyed with then put aside for another day. Each is wonderful and you eagerly want to share them, but they just don’t feel right for this proverbial ride to the beach.

Writing is a way to sort it all out, of course. Deciding which swell of bubbling thought energy to surf. Once committed, you either ride it to glory or watching it sputter out into nothing much to speak of. But there’s glory in being in the swell too.

“Your job is to collect good ideas. The more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from to be influenced by.” – Austin Kleon

This business of choosing applies to everything we do. Picking the right mate, the right career, the right friends and business associates, the right place to live, the right strategy, the right fitness and nutrition plan for your lifestyle, or the comparatively simple right ideas to explore in a blog. Sometimes the well runs dry, and sometimes the ideas stack up so high you can’t see the forest for the trees. When you’ve reached the bottom of the barrel or conversely when you can’t see the horizon anymore because you’re buried in ideas, a quick change of perspective does wonders for the mind.

I’ve managed to get out on the snowshoes three times this work week for a quick lap around one of the trails. Twice at lunch and once at the end of the day with the sun setting and a headlamp at the ready should I need it. The cold air and crunchy snow quickly do a number on whatever was scrambling my brain. A rising heart rate always seems to clear a mind that’s turning on itself. In each case I returned home renewed and ready for the next wrestling match with work or words.

Choosing is the tricky part, but I agree with Kleon, the more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from. Get out and experience life. Read more material that stretches you in new directions. Get your heart rate up to push it all to the side so you can see where you need to go. And then do it. Even if the wave sputters out on you, you’ll still gain something from the ride.

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