In the interests of feeding my own creativity (and thus feeding me and my cats and other dependents), I read newsletters from people working outside the fiction-writing sphere. One of those newsletters is called Dense Discovery, a collection of thought-provoking cites about all things tech, with a particular focus on graphic arts and design. One of my best buddies in college was a graphic designer, and I loved how his mind worked (and lot else about him too). I have kept a casual eye on the field of graphic design ever since.
One feature of Dense Discovery is called Worthy Five, where, in sound-byte fashion, somebody lists a phrase worth knowing, a newsletter they read, a twitter account they follow, a concept worth understanding, and an activity worth doing. This week, writer McKinley Valentine offered the following worthy phrase: You don’t have a problem, you have a solution you don’t like.
I read that idea as a little nasty–having a solution you don’t like, can’t morally accept, lack the means or resolve to implement IS a problem–but I also see wisdom there. People don’t like to wear masks, they don’t like to be wrong, they don’t like to do the hard work of listening to differing viewpoints and finding common ground, they don’t like a whole lot of solutions to vexing conundrums, myself included. I know I would lose weight–maybe only temporarily, and with all sorts of metabolic backlash, but I would–if I’d just starve myself.
Another quote offered in this week’s newsletter: “Looking at life from a different perspective makes you realize that it’s not the deer that is crossing the road, rather it’s the road that is crossing the forest.” (Muhammad Ali)
I’m reading Dickens’ Sketches by Boz these days, and I’m struck by how he could leaven huge, windy, lofty, bravura sentences and cinder block paragraphs with zingers. “A proper melodrama (three murders and a ghost)…” This is now literary canon law regarding melodrama, and enviably efficient guidance too.
That skill, of encapsulating wisdom in memorable and brief words, fascinates me. It’s like the next step after poetry in terms of effective communication. A whole worldview in a sentence. I don’t have this gift–it takes me 90,000 words to get my worldview across–but I am so glad other people do. I will be thinking about that business of the deer, the road, and forest all week, and further about solutions I don’t like where I see only problems.
Have you come across any pithy wisdom to help you through the trying days? Are there authors or friends who have the knack of condensing a whole worthwhile perspective into a few words? Maybe you just carry a few of these worthy aphorisms in your head, not sure where you picked them?