first thought, best thought

One thought experiment I've always wanted to run is to take all my fleeting ideas and go from 0 to 1 as quickly as possible. This applies to any creative project, product, or proposal that crosses the overflowing waterfalls of my mind. This scheme would kill my habit of overthinking & overanalyzing things that typically paralyzes my progress. I dream of a world with no more incomplete thoughts stuck in my passion purgatory, just immediate reaction and action.

Even as I type this piece up, all these sentences are being strung together with no semblance of order. All the unedited glory. Trying to respect both simplicity and complexity. Any attempt to resist perfection truly relieves the pressure of building something “really good”. After all, “good enough” is almost always fine.

I'm reminded of famous author Jack Kerouac, who spearheaded the concept of “spontaneous prose” during the 1950s. According to historians, he piloted a principle best summed up as first thought, best thought. Kerouac's writing famously disregarded proper punctuation, sentence structure, and grammar guides — his most iconic (and polarizing) On The Road was largely written by stream of consciousness and under the influence of heavy psychedelics. In his elegant words: “Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind || Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better”.

This has to be a liberating feeling: of constantly creating, breathing life into little kernels of thought that your mind deemed important enough to surface, if only momentarily. I've been focusing on concepts like courage, choice, and chance in my previous entries, and it's clear that everything is tangled together.

I think what I'm really honing in on is an active appreciation of intuition. The freeing sensation of just trusting your gut. A few years back I used to groan whenever anyone would supply that kind of advice. How do you even get good at hearing yourself? Of course, there’s never any guarantee that what you choose to trust will yield an emotionally predictable result. But maybe that's the trick — to not let myself run into brick wall after brick wall seeking “The Answers”. We always look for explanations, which gets to the core of my own insecurities:

Why do I overthink? Why don't I listen? Why don't I just do?Why do I accumulate so much excess mental baggage?

Confronting these questions is definitely a consuming process, forcing me to pay attention to what I pay attention to. So I channeled my inner Marie Kondo and enacted a digital purge of my many note-taking systems, bursty iPhone scribbles, and sporadic screenshots to hopefully find some treasures. I managed to stumble upon a new destination: my thought graveyard, the home of rotting ideas that suffered from premature deaths. I guess that's what happens when you have low conviction or belief in their ability to grow wings and take flight.

Mental health app prototypeDecision journalingPublic improv workshops Goodreads reviews diaryMeditation accountability groupPodcasting with palsCuration economy deep diveThe philosophy of communityDaily tweeting schedulePersonal website redesign on and so forth, the idea wheel keeps spinning. No dominant pattern jumps out at me, aside from the fact that most are new creative forms of expression that I'm hesitant to try all the way. I do expect to resurrect at least some of these in the future, but let's mourn them all in the meantime. 
2021. RIP 💀🪦💀

. . .

The other day I saw a tweet that said the #1 career hack is literally just replying to emails and DMs as quickly and enthusiastically as possible. Honestly, if you're someone like me who is very much plugged in to the digitally-native lifestyle, it's unequivocally a quick win. The problem is that I always find a (bad) reason to delay the (easy) action. This tangent might seem a bit unrelated, but it helped me connect the dots clearly. Here's a small update to our earlier principle: first time, best time. As in, the first time you see something is the best time to react to it. Or more broadly applied to life, the first time for anything is the most uninhibited form of experience you'll encounter. A first bite, a first conversation, a first contribution, a first kiss. Getting comfortable inhabiting these firsts seems to be one way to stay true to your head, hand, and heart.

My main takeaway from this reflection: at its core, first thought, best thought (and any derivative) is no more than an abstraction of my intuition. It's my responsibility to actually listen to myself. And for the first time in my life, I'm keen to say that I might very well follow through. In Kerouac's poetic lingo: Something that you feel will find its own form.

Here's to converting more first thoughts into first actions :)

Published by Sam (samwong) 7 months ago on Sunday the 31th of October 2021.

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