I arrived in Orlando this afternoon for the last CKU of 2007. These shows are so cool. It is amazing to see hundreds of like-minded people gathering together to celebrate what’s important to them, to have a great time, to take cool classes, get cool product, and have a little break from the day-to-day.
Lately I’ve been feeling a little kind of scraped-out. Like there isn’t that much left of me to give. I don’t know if this feeling is exhaustion or burnout or just a mood-swing, or one of the ebbs and flows of life and creativity. One thing I do see clearly now, that I need to do better, is to take time for important things. I see now that part of this murky sort of “something’s wrong” feeling is that I’m unbalanced in the way I’ve been living.
You know what’s amazing, though? I realized this because of your quotes.
I began to realize why I have been feeling this way for several weeks when I started reading the words you were suggesting for my wall. Little did I know that I really WAS searching for a few good words. I have always loved quotes. I love the power of a few words to change a mood, to lift my spirit, even to change my life. Annie Dillard says that a writer must be careful what she reads, for this is what she will write. I think that this applies to what a person thinks, and how a person spends their time. More on that in a second.
Maybe I haven’t been reading enough amazing quotes? :) So thank you. You didn’t need to take the time to write your favorite quotes down, and to participate in the exercise, but you did. And you need to know that it has changed me. Helped me refocus. Recommit. Both to spending time on the things that matter most to me, and also to spending time on things of most benefit to me. I love learning things in Photoshop, and experimenting and messing around, but I’ve been so busy that I’ve had to fall back on known things in order to meet deadlines. Not a bad thing - until all I’m doing is chasing deadlines, with no time for play (we’ll call that “research”, right? ;)).
Back to the Annie Dillard quote - I picked up a book in the airport today, called “Blink”, which, among other things, talks about the power of the unconscious mind.
The author explains the concept of “priming”, in which they expose test subjects to seemingly unrelated ideas that actually have an effect on the way those subjects acted.
Example 1: An experiment in which the test subjects were given a sheet of paper with several sets of words on it, and asked to make sentences from them. Intermixed in the words are references to aging: old, lonely, gray, bingo, and so on. Not enough that the conscious mind picked up on the pattern, but, the author says, people actually left the room walking slower - “primed” to feel old.
Example 2: Two groups of students are given a test with forty-two identical questions from Trivial Pursuit. One group is asked beforehand to write for five minutes about the topic of what it would mean to be a professor. The other group writes about “soccer hooligans”. The students who were “primed” to think about professors did measurably better on the question set than the soccer hooligans group.
It seems that the unconscious has a great effect on how we behave, and even how successful we are at the things we do. Mr. Gladwell says, “Our first impressions are generated by our experiences and our environment, which means that we can change our first impressions … by changing the experiences that comprise those impressions… Taking rapid cognition seriously - acknowledging the incredible power - for good and ill- that first impressions play in our lives - requires that we take active steps to manage and control those impressions.”
I think he and Annie Dillard have things right.
So thanks again, for brightening my life with your quotes, and your comments. I see now how important it is to take time to “prime” myself for what I do day-to-day (creatively, and as a mama and wife, and in all the aspects of life). I haven’t been, and I’m going to fix it. :)
Maybe that’s also why CKU is so powerful - it’s an entire weekend of conscious and unconscious validation, celebration of ourselves as creative individuals. I always go home from CKU exhausted but energized, and this might be why.
More from CKU tomorrow night!