How often I’ve been in a situation where I needed to come up with an answer right now and I hesitate. Not because I don’t have an answer, but because I don’t believe I could have come up with the right one so quickly.
So instead of the original thought, I go with the secondary and it’s wrong. Frequently. And the original turns out to be right. This happens most often for me with math questions. My brain loves numbers. Loves them so much that I have emotional attachments to some of them. I used to think things like, of course I thought of that number first, I like it and it’s such a beautiful colour. It was merely a coincidence that it is the right answer.
It’s not a coincidence. It was the right answer, I just didn’t believe enough in my ability to either come up with it or recall it, if it was something I already knew. And it’s not just math where this happens. And I don’t think it’s just me. But since my brain is the only one I live in on a regular basis, I’ll continue to speak from that perspective.
The notion of first thought, best thought as used for every day life decisions might not always work. I think I used it because I woke up with it on my lips and it starts with an F and since this is F day…ok, full disclosure..actually yesterday was F day and I did start to write something about focus but then got distracted and while I find that hilariously ironic, it’s also too close to status quo for me to be completely comfortable about it. It could be argued that I’m not honouring first thought best thought by starting something new, rather than continuing with my post of yesterday but I am a rich and varied creature of myriad contradictions and since it’s my name on the blog…
Anyhow. I heard first thought, best thought used specifically for writing from Sheri D Wilson, a really lovely poet. Who learned it from Allan Ginsberg, who in turn credited Chogyam Trungpa, who founded Naropa Liberal Arts institute (where one day I will attend the School of Disembodied Poetics, as has been my dream since I heard about it from a guy who picked me up hitchhiking when I was 18..I tried to go that day, but there was this border crossing where they didn’t appreciate my candid answers to their questions and so denied me entry). But way before that William Blake came up with “first thought is best in Art, second thought in other matters”. Whatever, it really doesn’t matter where it comes from because it’s a beautiful sentiment.
Here’s why. It suggests a trust that my brain has the ability to call forth that which is most appropriate or inspired or “correct”if only I would get out of the way and let it do so. So often I am struck with inspiration but have been conditioned not to trust those feelings because they’re more than probably irrational or silly.
But irrational and silly really tends to work for me!
I feel as though these moments are opportunities to tap into that voice inside, you know the one that if you actually listen to it won’t steer you wrong because it doesn’t come from a place of fear and second guessing? It’s not necessarily as loud as the secondary voice, or determined to make me see reason (have you ever noticed that the voices most unsure of being right are the ones that tend to be the loudest? As though, if I can convince you that this is true by yelling it in your face, it might actually be true for me too) regardless of whether or not that reasonable argument comes from a rational place or not.
I’m not suggesting that this is an infallible method and works for every single thing, even writing.
But how much sweeter is it to practice something that allows for a belief that I am capable of good things, or even best ones.
I lack focus,
My relative aperture is stuck
The setting too broad
For the fine tune required
To fulfill these ambitions of mine.
Except that I am still dreaming it
And like the abstract nature of the dream state
I have no idea
What it is about
Or where it might end,
If in fact, that’s what I want.
I can always change