When I was in college, I had a saying, “When love talks, write it down.”
I have long believed that love is the center and source of the universe, so this was my shorthand for documenting insights when they struck. Why? Because I found that inspiration struck often enough that I could use it to shape my life, but not often enough that I had access to it when needed. I made a point to write down my insights so later, when I felt confused or lost, I had them to guide me. I still do this.
I was a performing storyteller for many years, and learned a good deal about the phrase, “Once upon a time.” It is a standard way of beginning stories, but it is not the only way. This short antecedent has a purpose, to transport the listener into another realm, a place where belief can be suspended. Some of our most useful insights come when we suspend belief.
Think of religious stories, for example. My mom, who was devout, used to say to me, “This story is not true; it is true.” She delighted in saying it. What she meant was she didn’t believe the circumstances of the story actually took place, but she believed the story had a message that was authentic and meaningful. That’s her, me and our first dog in the picture above – around 1966.
Who knows where profound insight comes from? But, when it strikes, write it down so you can put it to use when it really counts, when the way forward is not clear.