Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pencil Magic

During the space race, NASA wanted astronauts to make notes while on their journeys. One little thing tripped them up. Zero gravity kept the ink in ballpoint pens from flowing to the point of the pen. The Americans assigned inventors to solve the problem and they invented little pumps that would fit inside the pens and would pump the ink to the point in zero gravity.

The Russians chose a simpler solution. They used pencils.

That story makes me smile.

I'm a pencil kind of guy. I always favor the simplest approach that will get the job done. In many areas of life, we may often look for some complicated solution, but the answer we need is actually very simple. In magic, you may often hear the expression, "hidden in plain sight."

How many times do we find ourselves in a situation and we dance around taking the simplest solution?

How many times are we the person who has a problem to solve, but we miss the simple solution right in front of us?

How many times do we think of explanations for why we are not on track, rather than just following our gut instinct and going for it?

Pick up the pencil and start writing. I still use pencils, old yellow #2. Classic beauty, simple efficiency.

Jot down your thoughts and ideas. It is good to help sort out your thoughts and reflect on the possibilities. Make to do lists and make notes about your observations about what is happening now and what you want to differently. Use that pencil to make appointments and get things going. Look farther ahead to see what you want to have happen later this year.

The great thing about pencils is that they allow you to make changes. Appointments change, priorities change, and pencils allow your plans to change. In the working ideas phase, flexibility is everything. And as you progress toward your goals, flexibility is still a great asset because there is always more than one way to get there.

I always have a pencil on my desk because it also reminds me of another thing. It is about spontaneity, creativity and action. People pick up pencils to sketch out ideas in pictures or words. Picking up a pencil encourages a person to be creative and let the ideas flow out, as compared to setting it in stone, setting it in type, or putting it in ink. Our lives are a work in progress, and the actions we choose to take to advance ourselves are often experiments and ideas that we are trying out. When we pencil something in, we are putting it on the list of things we are going to do and the action of penciling something into our list or calendar is usually a prompt action in response to a fresh idea or a fortuitous meeting with someone.

When I used to do woodwork and picture framing, we always used pencils to mark the spot where we would take the more permanent action of making the cut, inserting the screws or joining it with other parts. Pencils were just one of the important tools we used so we always had one tucked behind our ear.

And of course pencils are always ready to write and if we make a mistake we can erase it and do it over. The pencil is always the action that opens the way for other action. Even in today's world where we all use computers, we still hear people who are negotiating anything from a home sale to a proposal for work to be done to use the expression that urges us to "put a pencil to the numbers" or "sketch it out for me."

Pencils come out when our creativity is flowing and we are beginning to act on those creative impulses.

Got you thinking about pencil magic?

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