Ilove expensive pens. There’s something so terribly elegant about them – how they feel in the hand, the way the pen slides over the paper. There is, however, a problem with this method. It’s slow. I don’t know about you, but my thoughts tend to move far faster, generally than my hand can write to keep up. So, as someone who has kept a journal of some sort since about the age of 9 – starting with composition notebooks graduating in later years to the famed Moleskine – the ability to craft thoughts in a blog, to post musings by Twitter and to quickly toss of commentary at the tap of some keys was a blessing.
Note the past tense in that sentence.
One day as I picked up my leather-bound book from my bedside wanting to spend some time musing on a few early morning thoughts, I discovered after a sentence or two I was having trouble. It wasn’t for lack of thoughts it was from sheer inability to hold the pen. It seemed that all the time spent with my fingers hunched over a keyboard had dissolved any skills of penmanship I had. My handwriting skills had degraded from marathon-length endurance to a messy 50-yard dash.
That was not acceptable.
I began rehabilitating my writing, taking a bit of time each day to spend with pen and paper writing – really writing. Then something interesting happened. One day as I was working my way through a blog post by hand, an idea I had was evolving in a direction I’d not considered. By slowing down my writing, my mind was adjusting pace to accommodate, and in doing so was taking fascinating turns and twists. Giving the thoughts time to percolate, a kind of slow food for the brain, was resulting in a far more thoughtful and balanced view of my topic.
Now this may not seem altogether surprising or insightful, but hang with me for a second. Though not everyone may have the frothing passion for that feeling of pen gliding over paper that I do, there’s a lesson we should all carry when it comes to our presence on-line. Tapping on the keyboard to shoot off a reply to that email, a comment on that blog post or any number of 140 character comments is de rigueur, and that’s not going to change. In fact, digital communication will continue to expand and saturate our lives. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that we insert a deep level of mindfulness to the way in which we utilize the tools.
While some may say that elegance is relative – one person’s Cristal and caviar is another person’s beer and barbecue – at the end of the day the most elegant thing of all is being thoughtful — especially in the on-line world.