At some point today, I was talking to a coworker. I can’t remember which coworker, and I don’t even remember the topic, but I do know that at some point in a conversation I had today, I had a ping in my mind. It was a little idea, phrased a certain way, that I wanted to tease out possibilities for writing on.
That’s how it happens: little pings of thoughts. Rarely are they fully formed. Mostly they are just half-thoughts, waiting for a rational mind to talk to them and see if they are fleshy or hollow.
But I didn’t write it down. My little black notebook sat in my bag. I can’t even remember the topic of conversation that led to the tidbit of thought. And I’m not yet in the habit of writing something down while in the midst of talking to someone. I need to be, because things get lost.
All day long, at least hourly, half-thoughts ping through my mind. And they never reach paper. I need to put them on paper, because, for some reason, they stick better in my mind. Typing it out doesn’t have the same kinetic, tangible connection to the saving function of ink for the thought.
So, after dealing with this dilemma of lost thought today, I can’t help but recalling a bit from an episode of Mad Men this season. One character, Paul, had a brilliant idea in the middle of the night, one that was perfect for the product they were going to sell. But he promptly passed out and never wrote it down.
Paul’s frustration with himself is met with sympathy, as I think he deserves. But he sums it up with a Chinese proverb: “The faintest ink is better than the best memory.”
Now my lost memory only recalls that proverb. Hopefully it will keep repeating itself to make sure I that when I hear a ping, I write it down.