Tag Archives: life-goals

Happy Flashes

One of the things I love most about life is getting an idea. It can come out of nowhere, hitting me between the eyes like a bolt from the heavens, or (more likely!) it happens like this: something I overhear, or something I see, will strike me as interesting. Maybe I won’t know why at the time, but I always make sure to make a note of it. Later, sometimes, I find that little detail – perhaps a particular combination of words, or a pun, or an interesting nugget of information about a person’s life, will develop and grow into a proper, fully-fleshed idea. Of course, a lot of the time, these little interesting tidbits don’t develop properly in their own right, but it can happen that they get absorbed into other, larger, ideas. It’s great to make an idea out of a patchwork of little fragments of inspiration; sometimes, it can make the idea richer and more real.

Getting ideas is wonderful enough, just by itself. It makes me feel productive and alive, and it makes me feel like I’m on the right track with regard to what I’ve chosen to do with my life. It’s true, of course, that everyone gets ideas – every millisecond of every day, someone is having an idea. Inspiration is percolating through someone’s brain, in some corner of the world, no matter what time of day or night it is. I think the only real difference between writers and non-writers is that writers take note of what their imaginations are saying. Writers are the people who, mid-conversation, will scramble for their notebooks or their mobile phones to make a note of something that’s been said, or something they’ve overheard, or something that’s suddenly struck them, all the while muttering apologies. Writers are terribly rude, it’s true. They probably also have pens and scraps of paper in every pocket, and they nearly always seem to be having conversations with people who aren’t there. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a way to overcome this. If you know or love a writer, you must be a patient soul indeed.

But, even if the ideas I get don’t turn into Ideas, Ideas that are good enough and strong enough to become a Story, I love getting them. Do you want to know the reason why?

young girl in a flower field

It means my brain is working properly. It means my stress levels are being managed more or less correctly. It means my mental health is good. It means I’m balancing my rest time with my active time in the optimum way. Another way I know that things in my life are in the correct balance is if I start noticing and remembering my dreams, or if I feel that I’m dreaming. If I wake up feeling soft around the edges, like my mind is in another place and time, I’m pretty sure I’ve been dreaming, even though I mightn’t remember the details. If I’m under stress, or overworked, or too tired, I won’t dream. Earlier in my life, at a very unhappy time when I felt undervalued, overworked and far too stressed out, I went years without having a dream. I had no ideas, and the little flashes I did manage to get were like straggly wildflowers trying to grow in a desert. They wilted and died, because there was no rich soil to plant them in. My brain was a wasteland, because all the life and goodness in it was being leached away. I was, as you might imagine, a very unhappy person back then. Luckily, though, I managed to get the courage to leave the job I was working in at the time and change my life for the better. Besides one or two small hiccups along the way, ever since that time I’ve seen nothing but an improvement in my dreamscapes and my Ideas. And that’s just the way I like it.

So, I think it’s important to keep an eye on your dreams, and on your ideas, if you’re the kind of person who, like me, finds inspiration in the smallest and most throwaway of things. If you notice your dreams drying up, or if your ideas start to flutter and sputter away without taking root, there may be something out of balance in your life that you need to take care of. And, of course, make sure you always take note of the happy flashes of inspiration that can come at you when you least expect them. You never know how far those flashes will take you.

Have a wonderful and restful weekend!




Image source: http://www.corbisimages.com Corbis-42-23276872.jpg, via Google Images

Sleeping Dogs

After the Great Book Cull yesterday, I decided to tackle another storage ‘issue’ that we’ve been having at home for the last few *mumble* months. I finally faced the two boxes full of random stuff from my parents’ house which have been sitting in a corner of my kitchen, taunting me and getting in the way, for far too long now. I think I was avoiding dealing with them not only because I’ve been very busy these past few months, but also because those boxes contained a lot of deeply personal stuff from my adolescence. They included a lot of documentation from my college application, notes from my first year at university, letters from old friends whom I haven’t seen in years, old art supplies (including dried-up paint, of which I have a Kristeva-esque phobia), and – inevitably – diaries.


Pen writing words 'Dear Diary' in notebook

If only my handwriting was this neat!


I had entirely forgotten I’d kept diaries from around the time of leaving school/entering college – it’s a time in my life I’ve largely blanked out of my mind, some of it deliberately, for a variety of reasons. It was a hard time for me, as I’m sure it was for most people. However, as soon as my hands fell on these diaries I began to wonder if, at some level, I’d known they were there, waiting for me in the boxes I’d put off dealing with for months and months. Certainly, as soon as my eye fell on them, I remembered exactly what they were, and I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away. They’re here, beneath my desk as I write, and I’m torn between reading them in full or just wrapping them back up and putting them away somewhere else, for a few more years.

I did have a look through some of the diary entries yesterday. I must have been a pretty picture, sitting on my kitchen floor surrounded by mess, fingers blackened with dust, reading about a life I lived and which I had barely any remembrance of. As I read, it was like forcing the hinge on an old, swollen door, and throwing it open; memories started to pour in, just like sunshine into a long-locked room. Letting the light in wasn’t so bad, but looking around this room of my memory was hard. The new sunlight highlighted the dust and mess in my inner room, making it very clear that I hadn’t been here in years, and that these memories had lain undisturbed, encrusted, for far too long. Perhaps it wasn’t a bad thing that I was finally taking some steps around these memories again. Certainly, the place could use a clean-up, and I really had to do something with those grimy windows…

I read about old mates, some of whom I still treasure, and I read about a fight I’d been having at the time with a person who, thankfully, is now one of my closest friends again. I read about my first, tentative steps into life in Dublin, and remembered exactly how terrified I’d been at the time; I read about long-forgotten feelings I’d had for boys, and I read about pain I’d been going through at the time which I’d also, thankfully, forgotten about years ago. Some of these pages were easier to read than others, and not all the memories were bad, but I did have to put the diaries away after a little while, promising myself I’d come back to them again at some stage.

What struck me more than anything else, though, was the shocking quality of my writing – I obviously figured myself as some sort of tortured artistic genius, and I peppered my entries with long words and flowery phrases, probably imagining that, one day, they’d be donated to a library or something. Such notions! I was quite embarrassed, actually, at the turns of phrase I’d used and the purpleness of my prose. It was nice, though, to read about my youthful dreams (which are, largely, the same as my current, more aged dreams); at least I’m still on the right track, even if I’d better get a move on in the ‘achieving my goals’ stakes. One of the sentences I did read lamented the idea that I could be ‘twenty-five and still in college’ if I wanted to achieve a particular life goal, which made me laugh. At the time I wrote the words, twenty-five seemed Methuselah-ish; now, it’s a dim and distant memory. It’s amazing the difference a few years makes on your perspective!

Reading the diary extracts put me in a strange mood for the rest of the day. I was reflective, and perhaps even a little angry (though I wasn’t sure at what, or whom). Perhaps I was just annoyed that all those years have had to pass, and I’ll never again have the wide-eyed experience of my first solo trip on a bus, or my first glimpse of the sunlight glinting off the river Liffey. I guess memories are precious, even if some of them hurt to recall, and I’m sure in a few days, once the dust has settled (so to speak!) over these newly rediscovered diaries, I’ll be very glad of some of the experiences they’ll bring back to me.

But I’m not doing any more tidying around the house for a while. It’s just too risky!