A couple weeks ago I was sick with some funky flu-like thing that included among its notable features, an up-and-down-up-and-down-up-and-down—fever. During the up parts when my old-fashioned mercury thermometer read above 102.3 I had little choice but to quit working and become one with the sofa. My brain, it turns out, doesn’t like simmering in its own juices.
So sporadically I found myself spending chunks of time horizontally over three days—mainly watching newly discovered Dexter, seasons 1 & 2, on Tivo, or flipping through the backlog of magazines that had piled up on family room table (and yes, I probably also used the laptop to update my Facebook status – one’s brain is generally not required for that.)
Somehow during my recuperation my Create-O-Matic still managed to send up ideas for photo shoots or projects. Like you (hopefully,) I have learned that if I don’t write down every brilliant idea I have, I will lose many if not all of them – especially the ones that come while I’m laying in bed before falling asleep. You know the ones I’m talking about. You have them too. Yes, t-h-o-s-e ideas. The ones we SWEAR we’ll remember because they are just too flippin’ genius to forget, and we fall asleep—confident that there’s a Nobel prize in our future—without writing them down. The next morning the only thing about our ideas we remember is that we had them. And they were great. But they’re gone. Probably forever.
Yesterday, more than a week recovered, I was sorting through some stray papers I found the postage paid envelope for Smithsonian Magazine that I had re-purposed into a place to store the random note-worthy ideas and to-dos that sprang forth during my stay on the sofa. There weren’t many; I averaged three a day. I read through them, trying to not be too judgmental. I had been, after all, ill when I wrote them. There were two out of nine ideas I thought were decent and was going to transcribe them in to my idea diary. You don’t know how proud of myself I was for having written them down.
Among all the notes scratched on the paper there was one that I read but I simply had no idea what it meant. I mean I can’t tell you what I was even thinking about when I wrote it: Tree/cross. Huh? Um, ok, whatever. Whereas the last one on the list, that no matter how much I squinted or rotated the paper, I could not and still cannot read. I think it says “Toast w/ a… with a what? Osprey? Pliers? Prayer?” Maybe it was the name of a recipe? Maybe it says “Toast a la player?” Not a clue.
So now, while I’m giving myself major points for writing down the idea even though I was sick, I can’t help but hear my fifth grade teacher’s growly voice reminding my that “penmanship counts,” and will be considered as part of my grade, as she hands me a stack of pop history quizzes with the implied instruction to take one and pass the rest back. You and I know she only said that so she might have a shot at reading our answers.
And now I see she had good reason for saying so. It’s in all of our best interests to write legibly. End of lecture.
But now here’s the thing. I’d hate to think the Nobel or Booker prize—or maybe a MacArthur Award—has slipped out of reach because I was just too sloppy. What if it could have benn the topic for my TED Talk? If you can read that scribble or somehow manage to trigger the magic switch in my brain that unlocks my squirrelly DaVinci code, I will send you a small Giclée Print from my Color is a Verb series as a simple token of gratitude. Plus I will mention you repeatedly in my Nobel acceptance speech. Cross my heart.
All your best guesses are welcome in the comments. And thanks for the help.