Wow!  I did not intend for that to happen.

Immediately after re-declaring my commitment to my 2018 goals, I disappeared for six months.

As is usually the case in a falling-off situation, there was not one, single cause, but a combination.  The day – rather, the very early morning – after my last post, my family and I departed on an eleven-day cross-country adventure.

The Great Western Adventure: Knoxville > Carlsbad > Flagstaff > Sunriver > Richland > Knoxville

Three days in to the trip, I pushed the power button on my laptop to begin drafting my next post – which was to be about all the natural architecture I had witnessed from several thousand feet above this fascinating land of ours – only to find it didn’t work.

At all.


I wasn’t totally surprised.  I had been limping along for a few weeks with no sound after dumping a cup of coffee all over the keyboard.  But at least everything else had worked.  Until now.

That was one week skipped.

We spent the day after our return hunting for the right USB adapter to plug the laptop brains into the desktop computer.  It worked, but a few more days were lost to transitioning files from one hard drive to the other, plus nearly two weeks’ worth of emails to go through.

Another week skipped.

Which was just enough time for me to question what I was doing and why was I doing it.

I had admitted six months ago that I wasn’t doing what I knew I needed to be doing: the sketching, drawing, creating that I seemed to have a strong resistance against.  I thought a recommitment was the answer.  Deeper inside, however, it was all the other unfinished business laying around me that was really bothering me.  I didn’t want to put a whole lot of stock in the theory that this stuff was holding me back.  Clutter doesn’t seem to bother other people quite that much, but it was bothering me.  So, I made a new commitment to deal with it.

And when I did, I became more open to the fact that it wasn’t such a strange concept unique to me.

In Brian Johnson’s PhilosophersNotes TV episode on the book Willpower, by Roy Baumeister & John Tierney, he chose Tidy Up! as his #3 Big Idea.  He talks about it at the 4:53-5:59 mark.

The reason being – and the authors’ research showed – that a clean environment increases a person’s willpower versus a messy environment.  Leaving all of my un-made decisions around on every available surface – so I won’t forget about it – does not create the clean environment conducive to exercising the willpower necessary for doing the hard stuff, which, for me, is the drawing and creative work.

Marie Kondo writes in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,

…when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too.

The truth about many of my piles, stacks, and boxes is that they are three-dimensional lists of indecisions and constant, visual reminders of all the things I intended to do, but still haven’t done yet; the past trying to coexist in the present.  Not the kind of inspiring environment for pursuing a dream and future career, nor for discovering what my creative abilities are.

This is why I took an unscheduled break from my architecture studies and writing: to figure out how to manage the details of the present and deal with the un-dones from the past, with the hope of moving freely and swiftly into my desired future.

All has not been lost, though.  Since June, I have managed to:

  • finish reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  • binge-watch hours of Youtube interviews and lectures with David Allen, author of Getting Things Done
  • make minimizing/tidying/processing/decluttering a daily habit (with visible progress!)
  • sign up for several classes through the University of Tennessee’s non-credit program on the topics of conquering clutter, Adobe Photoshop, and WordPress
  • start reading Monet & Architecture
  • watch a couple of episodes of a great series on Netflix – The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes
  • attend talks on architectural salvage and buying an historical home
  • go on a walking tour of a local, historic neighborhood

I’m still in the game, just not quite the way I planned.

In one of those lectures (found at the 13:56 mark), David Allen said:

I start with where people are; not with where you should be. Because if you can’t handle and get under control where you are, and get it focused right, where you should be is like spitting in the wind. But once you get now nailed, whoo! Then hang on…

Time to get now nailed.