Archive for the ‘Dreams’ Category:

Why I Write This Blog

When I was writing the article about Susan Cain, I ventured into the territory of discussing the value, to me, of blogging:  The fact that knowing I have done something with an idea – that I have shared it, even if no one reads what I’ve shared, is cathartic – its relaxing, and lets me get on with other things.

In the previous article about TEDXGranta I opined that it was a shame that ideas, when expressed were not always presented as well as they could be – and that that got in the way of the message.

So clearly this blog is perfect.  And I’m proud of everything I’ve written, right?

Yeah.  Whatever.

You see, I would dearly love this blog to be perfect.  But I’m lazy.  Too lazy to strive for perfection.  Which is, I admit, a flaw.  But even worse, I have great trouble with letting people perceive me as being imperfect.  Which means I don’t want to show them anything I’ve done.  Nothing I do will ever be perfect enough – so to myself, I will always seem to be too lazy.

However, I have ideas, and until I started this blog, they were just buzzing around in my head, waiting for me to do something with them.  Something I would never do, because to actually realize my ideas would show up imperfections – both in the idea, and in my attempt to do something with them.  I’m keeping myself locked up in a gaol of my own creation.  And if so, then this blog is a halfway house back to society.

You see, I didn’t tell anyone about this blog.  I just wrote to it.

And, when I wrote to it, I never cared that much about checking what I wrote.  There was no deep planning, just thinking thinking thinking until I was fit to burst, then writing until the muse left, or I reached a sentence which sounded like a conclusion.  After that the copy editing was negligible and I published without caring what the world thought.  Because, it was only under this set of rules that I could get anything written at all.  Only under these rules that I could do anything with my ideas.

And this is the way I’m going to continue.  At first, when I wrote to this blog, I thought I would write mainly about things I had special knowledge of – I have quite deep knowledge of the Windows driver ecosystem, and have attended enough of Microsoft’s conferences to let me think I have some insight into their corporate mind.  But as its moved on, I’ve used it as a place to dump other ideas.  Mainly technical ideas.  Applications I’ll never write.  Business strategies I’ll never convince the person who has power to take seriously.  But more and more, I want to talk about other things – the things which sit on the top of my mind from hour to hour.  The last two articles were examples of this – I’ve written about Introversion – which is both a major curse and a god given boon to me, and I’ve talked about ideas – which is the landscape I live in – away from the minor irritations of day to day life.

But there are other paths where I still fear to tread.  Spirituality.  My own half assed philosophies.  Stuff which could be described as the trashiest of self help, where the only scientific proof is an n=me sample.  Maybe I’ll find a way of broaching some of that here.  Because even if ideas only work for a few of us, its worth it if the idea is out there.

I’ve heard it said that ideas alone have no value.  When I first heard it, I agreed wholeheartedly.  Because I had ideas, and no one was paying me for them.  But this was just an excuse.  My ideas may have been priceless.  But all the gold in the world doesn’t do anything if you keep it locked away and don’t let anybody know you want to sell it.  No ideas do have value.  I buy books because I want to expose myself to good ideas.  Sure, the clarity of the writing helps.  The references to back up the ideas are nice.  Anything which stops my thoughts getting in the way of me paying attention to the idea is good.  But if there was no idea, no matter how nice the writing, I would consider the book to be almost valueless.

This all means I can put a price on ideas.  The sort of ideas I read about (which often are not that huge or world changing) I might expect to get one or two of in a paperback.  So to me, a good idea is worth, perhaps, a fiver.  The good thing about ideas, is that you can sell them over and over again to different people.  The bad thing about ideas is that, no matter how much you want to, you can’t own them.  And if someone can express that idea better than you – more clearly, more easily to get hold of, in video when you’re still on a cuniform tablet, then they’ll take the money.  And you can’t complain – because the idea isn’t yours.  But you also can’t complain, because the idea is being spread.  And because one idea being taken doesn’t mean you are out of ideas, it means you have more space to create more ideas.  And it means you know your ideas are valuable.

I’ve noticed many authors say they keep getting asked the question “Where do you get your ideas?”.  And I’ve noticed them having glib answers.  Answers which don’t answer the question.  Because the authors don’t know.  They might know what inspired a particular idea.  But they don’t know where the ideas come from (though Elizabeth Gilbert has some good thoughts on this.  See her TED speech.  Also, she doesn’t let her fear of being judged get in the way of writing about the spiritual side of her life.).  he fact is, authors have lots of ideas – they don’t get their ideas from anywhere – in fact their biggest job is to know which ideas not to use (or not to use just yet). I rather suspect authors, on their death beds, are more upset about the infinity of stories they haven’t been able to tell yet then of the few finely crafted stories they got out into the world.  People who say they never have ideas – or don’t know where ideas come from are wrong.

Its a lot like people who say “I never remember my dreams” or “I never dream”.  Everybody dreams.  We have pretty decent scientific proof that everybody dreams.  People who don’t remember their dreams, are people who don’t think paying attention to their dreams is important.  If you want to remember your dreams, all you have to do is the following

1. When you wake up, don’t move.  Moving seems to be the thing that eats dreams

2. Ask yourself:  was I dreaming just then.

3.  If you were, write down everything that you remember.  And perhaps meditate on bits to see if they help you remember other parts of your dream.

4.  Also, if, during the day, you recollect a dream fragment – you realize that a memory you recall couldn’t possibly have happened, write it down.

Do that, and often you’ll be remembering multiple dreams a night.  Don’t do that, and you could go on thinking you don’t ever dream.

Ideas are very similar.  We all have ideas.  We all think, from time to time “This sucks”.  That’s an idea.  When something sucks, there’s an idea telling you that something could be better.  Give it a couple of seconds pondering, and you might have a notion of how something could be improved.  It might be a fanciful thought.  You might immediately realize why it wouldn’t work.  But its an idea.  Seriously we have ideas all the time.  We just don’t recognize them.

For the record – its unlikely that you’ll have original ideas.  Because original ideas are mind bending weirdness, things that take a leap of consciousness to obtain.  Original ideas are for the prophets, philosophers, scientists and artists. (and only the very few of them, the rest are hacks, just like you and me).  What most of our ideas are is about combining things we already know in new ways.  Ideas are usually about 1 + 1.  God ideas are about the result being 3.  Bad ideas are about the result being .5.  Very rarely will we have to invent a whole new numbering system.

When we do recognize ideas, they have a habit of buzzing around and annoying us.  They want to be applied to everything.  Or they want us to apply them instead of washing the dishes and turning up for work.

When I talked about dreams, I talked about thinking about them, and about writing them down.  By honouring dreams, we mark them as something important to us.  Something we should pay attention to.  Ideas are the same… we need to honour them – to recognize them as important.  And we honour ideas by doing something with them, something more than just thinking about them.  When you honour dreams, you don’t keep getting the same dream – you net new dreams. The same is true of ideas.  Ideas don’t dry up.  The more ideas you’ve had, the more you are able to have, so long as you keep recognizing them as important.


This blog is about honouring ideas.  Its a place where I write about them.  A place where I share them.  A place where anyone can take them.  These ideas may not be worth a fiver.  And I certainly don’t expect anyone to pay me for them (though any donations you might like to offer won’t be rejected out of hand).  This blog is about putting them out there in case anybody finds them valuable – or anybody who isn’t a perfectionist might actually want to realize them.  Its a gift to myself, and (in a way) my gift to anyone who cares.

As of yet, I haven’t told anybody about this blog, even though I’ve been writing it for 6 months.  Google knows about it.  My wife knows about it.  Occasionally people stumble across it, and probably wonder where they are.  But the people who know me, don’t know about it.  I’m not sharing the ideas widely enough yet.  This may have to change.


But not quite now.

Because I’m scared they’ll find out I’m imperfect (like they don’t already know)

But ideas want to be free.  They want to be shared.

So someday.  Soon.  I promise.