I love technology. My Think Pad, iPad and iPhone help me communicate with more people more often from more places.
But do they help me think as deeply as my theorist mind needs to go? That question kept coming to my mind while going thru 40 years of hand-written papers, some water soaked but partially saved after a fire in our office a year ago. (Actually, there’re only 30 yrs of papers…cuz there aren’t many hand-written papers from the last 10 yrs.)
What was I thinking?
There it was – the paper on which I scribbled a formula, crossed it out and tried again, then again. I could see where my mind had thought to go, then turned in a different direction, then settled on what has worked for decades. None of that process shows up when I work on my computer. I try to do what today’s tech experts recommend and erase most previous versions of docs. What do those show anyway?
In the boxes there are pages torn out of yellow pads with squiggles all over them. No stock photos or pics, just my hand-drawn icons for four things I called Powers, Creative Strengths, Positives…finally Action Modes. Version upon version of a concept. My arrows remind me how emphatic I was when I hit on a formula that resonated in my mind. Right there is the one that has been used for decades. I did a swirling circle around it. Lots of swirls.
Archiving the details isn’t the point. It’s my process of decision making that matters most – at least to me.
Now THAT’S the page where a concept fell into place. That drawing of the Kolbe Creative Process was in-tune with what felt like truth. Seeing it made me recall putting the pen down, resting my head on the back of the chair as if I were a composer listening to a symphony I’d just completed.
Several random yellow (or blue or pink or white) pads later I see the difference. And, I can hear the dissonance I sensed in my head when I moved an element to the wrong place. Computers may screech when they are misused. My mind does that when it senses errors. But it seems louder when I do it with a pen on paper.
Another stack of yellow pads. All with lists and lists and lists of words. Days and days, and weeks and months of searching for the right ones. Some pages all nouns. I can tell they were wrong because they were printed more formally. I was certainly being too cognitive. When I see the list of verbs, it’s as if trumpets blared. Yes! I remember my sweeping orchestra conductor movements in the middle of the night. That’s it! It’s all about the harmony of the four types of Action Verbs.
I had obviously scribbled furiously. The a’s and e’s were sometimes script and sometimes print – that’s when I am on a roll. (And it just doesn’t show up on my Word docs.)
Pads and pads and pads of lists. There were the ones from Roget. There were the ones from the physics books. There were the ones from cartoons.
There are the lists of names. Hundreds of names – mostly just first names of kids and adults – attached to various sets of words. Yes, I remember Bob defying me to predict what he would do with those tooth picks. There are the names of the gifted junior high kids who found the information fit them to a tee. There is the woman whose name I never got right, but who broke into tears with an MO I will never forget.
After the fire in our office I was told, and said to others: “We were able to save most of the important things. Our clients never lost a moment of access to scoring Kolbe Index results when our server room was destroyed.”
Some water soaked boxes were carried into the back corner of our undamaged warehouse next door. The IRS would need some of the financial information in the boxes over there. THEY were scanned, but no one rushed to save the boxes of my handwritten work.
The results of my thinking have gone into computer programs, formulas, books, and software applications. Thank goodness we’d backed up the damaged servers. There is no way to back up my memory of the process it took to discover conative truths.
It’s the conclusions my processes led to that matter to the world. No one but me would be able to interpret these tattered pages. They won’t stop those who believe ideas just pop out of my head. Or that my work must have been stolen from someone with a PhD.
As a resistant Fact Finder, I won’t spend much more time looking thru the old stuff. The smudged papers have served their purpose. They told me what I need to do.
I need to move forward using all of my techy toys. I also need to protect days for making – and fine tuning – music in my head. I need the process of putting pen to yellow pads.