Someone recently asked me what kind of writer I am. As an introvert, I tend to internalize most of my thinking. I really ponder all the aspects of a topic before I even discuss it with anyone. Even if a simple topic comes up in a passing conversation, I don’t really commit to the discussion before I’ve thought long and hard about it. Yes, it’s possible to overthink things this way. And it’s all too easy to lose sight of the joy in natural solutions when you’re mired in the day-to-day muck of details, bills, filings, complaints, accountability and general to-dos.
Practice in Patience
Today wasn’t like other days at work. Today was a lucky day. I was flying a kite with my daughter at the beach; teaching a two-year-old to fly a kite on a windy day is a practice in patience. It’s hard enough to do it myself. The kite would be swept up instantaneously – catching us by surprise and challenging our grip. It would rise with grace then suddenly pull stubbornly against us. Spinning and diving dramatically into the sand – leading us to duck for cover more than once. But the simple repetitive motion of pulling in the kite, rolling in the string, emptying out the sand, then raising the kite again has a special allure to it. It’s tedious and sometimes thankless when the kite rises for a second before it dives again. I found myself comparing it to fly fishing – it’s not really about catching fish, it’s about the art of TRYING to get better at catching fish, “thinking” like a fish and considering the best tactics – in practice and theory sometimes more than in reality.
Over and over, the string of the kite kept getting tangled almost instantly on itself. With the tricky January wind blowing off the Sea of Cortez, it would quickly weave tiny, tight knots that turned into longer loops of more knots. All threatening to catch the kite up in a web and bind it to the earth. This simply wouldn’t do. I started to pick apart the knots with my fingers – squinting through sunblock-smeared sunglasses to see the minuscule loops and whirls knitted back upon themselves. Annoyed and exasperated, this task was seemingly becoming daunting. Untangling knots was not what I wanted to be spending time doing during this rare beach day with my daughter. But before I could make any progress at all – the wind yanked the kite and string up again. SNAP – before my eyes – this vexing knot had unraveled into a long, clear line again, pulling itself free on its own. I had to pause and think about this. Not what I had expected to happen. At all. It was too easy.
Don’t Anticipate Stress
It made me think about the complications in life that confront us. The challenges that may rise on a daily basis in work, relationships, family life. The struggle we have to maintain our calm and control in the face of the winds that blow us. The anticipated stress and annoyance these situations will assuredly cause us. Do we overthink the solutions? Do we stress ourselves out even more, simply with our anticipation of the stress that we might not actually have to encounter at all? Could it be that the kite strings might smooth themselves out more often on their own if we don’t meddle with twitchy, tense fingers in our impatient, human way?
Don’t Overthink It
Perhaps in business, as on the beach, the simple solutions can be the most elegant. The most natural way to enjoy the process, even while being a flawed human of the 2020 era. The solutions may have many moving parts we can’t control, and a variety of extraordinary elements involved that we don’t always understand. But, if we get out of our own way and let them fly, could we go higher without constantly fighting the wind? Can we let loose of the knots and continue to be part of the solution? Participating in the exhilarating climb without losing joy over the tedious details? Maybe it’s possible if we just don’t overthink it.
So what kind of writer am I? I guess you could say I’m the simple kind that is just trying to understand what there is to be learned from everything that happens around me.