I had the opportunity to spend some time with a good friend yesterday, brainstorming ideas and possible business opportunities. Brainstorming feels very freeing, and I think to be truly effective should not be burdened with too many expectations, but instead relished for the act in itself, for the opportunity to free-think and to create. This is not to say that it won’t yield results, or that one shouldn’t follow-up on discussions to sift through and see if there might not indeed be any nuggets of value. But the process itself, and the intellectual noodling, inspiration, laughter and excitement that can occur — and did for me yesterday — is a gift in itself.
In trying to find answers — whether wawdwol-ing or brainstorming business ideas — we must not forget to appreciate time spent in the search, and the simple human capacity to search and to question. Rilke, in Letters to a Young Poet, further suggests to “love the questions themselves.”
And finally, whether there turn out to be any golden nuggets or not, one might consider the fulfillment found in people like those referenced in the opening line of a poem by a favorite poet, Carl Dennis: “…nothing they ever do is a digression, each chapter contributing its own rare gift…”
Not the Idle
by Carl Dennis (from his book Practical Gods)
It’s not the idle who move us but the few
Often confused with the idle, those who define
Their project in life in terms so ample
That nothing they ever do is a digression,
Each chapter contributing its own rare gift
As a chapter in Moby Dick on squid or hard tack
Is just as important to Ishmael as a fight with a whale.
The happy few who refuse to live for the plot’s sake.
Major or minor, but for texture and tone and hue.
For them weeding a garden all afternoon
Can’t be construed as a detour from the road of life.
The road narrows to a garden path that turns
And circles to show that traveling goes only so far
As a metaphor. The day rests on the grass.
And at night the books of these few,
Lined up on their desks, don’t look like drinks
Lined up on a bar to help them evade their troubles.
They look like an escort of mountain guides
Come to conduct the climber to a lofty outlook
Rising serene above the fog. For them the view
Is no digression though it won’t last long
And they won’t remember even the vivid details.
The supper with friends back in the village
In a dining room brightened with flowers and paintings
No digression for them, though the talk leads
To no breakthrough. The topic they happen to hit on
Isn’t a ferry to carry them over the interval
Between soup and salad. It’s a raft drifting downstream
Where the banks widen to embrace a lake
And birds rise from the reeds in many colors.
Everyone tries to name them and fails
For an hour no one considers idle.