The other day, on Twitter, my pal Pat tweeted this at me:
@BenjaminBrooks Ultimately, isn’t the method you enjoy the most going to be the one that produced the best results?
This of course made me think: which method of note taking do I enjoy the most? Hand written notes, or typed notes. I’ll be honest, when faced with that question the only thing I could come up with was: UUuuuhhhhhhhhh.
My honest answer is that I don’t really have a preference. I like the romance of the pen, and I like the order of the digital note. There’s no one answer I can give to this question, but I also think it is perhaps the most important question when it comes to anything we do.
It doesn’t matter if you are a brilliant mathematician if you hate math. It doesn’t matter if you are a great football player if you hate football.
Likewise it doesn’t matter if you are passionate about football, but suck at it. Or if you love math, but can’t add.
This further complicates the question.
On the surface we want nothing more than to encourage people to follow their hearts, but we must also admit sometimes that is not the best advice. And sure, we are talking about taking fucking notes, but by the same token notes are a very important part of what many people do each day.
And even more than just notes, this can and does carry across to just about any software and tools which you may choose to help you in life. To a certain degree you have to follow your heart, but you also have to concede that sometimes what your heart wants, doesn’t align with the reality of what you need.
But where should this balance be struck?
That’s the question I am most interested, and the question I have yet to figure out — I don’t think anyone has really figured this out.
I know plenty of people who know backpacks are better, prefer the comfort of them, but will eschew them in favor of a heavy leather bag — because that is where their heart lies. This makes sense, right up until you realize your back hurts and you can’t turn your neck one day… Still the decision is justifiable and I see it all the time in people older than me — collectively we call this being “set in their ways”.
There is an opposing case of this too, with people like me who are always eager to adopt the newest technologies and are actually passionate about always being on the cutting edge. We might spend hours trying to navigate the USPS website and print out shipping labels, just to avoid standing in line at the post office for 15 minutes.
But the middle, the people who adopt some, but not all of the new things — they aren’t any better off, because no one adopts only the right things at the right time. You can’t actually be in the middle, you just can only be less extreme. In other words you may desperately try to print shipping labels from USPS, but at the same time refuse to send email because the hand written letter is the highest form of correspondence.
People who straddle both extremes like this aren’t any better, they are just weirder than people at either of the two extremes. BeCause at least those at an extreme end are consistent with how they act.
As I said at the outset of this post: I don’t have a solution to this. What I do know, is when it comes to choosing your tools, you need to follow your heart.
At the same time though, you need to be open to your heart being wrong. Because my heart screams to me the bag I want to use is this:
But, I know the bag for me really is this:
If nothing else, this very site is an example of one mans struggle to wrestle his heart and mind into agreement over what actually works best. My heart lies in shoulder bags, but my mind knows they are horrible for me. Writing apps, knives, weather apps, task management apps, CMS software, cameras — my heart and mind are all over on most of these things.
That’s not to say what I have picked for myself in each of those categories is a compromised decision, but it does mean very few of those decisions I am at peace with.
Which I think is the main point of this whole thing, and perhaps the better question we should be asking ourselves: are you at internal peace with your choice of tools? If not, try t; find that peace.
I’ve written extensively lately about one of these internal conflicts — my struggle over wanting a 27″ iMac, but knowing the 12″ MacBook is really the best for me. I am very much not at peace with my decisions there, but perhaps I might find it in this iPad Pro I am currently composing this article on.
There is hope though. I am completely at peace with my choice of pocket knives. I look at many out there, and while some are very pretty, I rest assured in my decision each day. My mind knows I have one of the best, not only for me, but for anyone — while my heart loves everything about the tool.
Likewise I am finally at peace with my choice in cameras. I recently wrote about shooting only on the 35mm X100T frame, and how I really love it. The no bullshit truth is that I am so happy with the X100T, I no longer follow photography news and I no longer follow Fujifilm rumors. There’s no point: I’ve found my peace and happiness with cameras.
The same holds true with my choice in cars. I am perfectly at internal peace with these decisions and that may be hard for people to accept because of how much I seem to always be searching for something better — but that search is often because I have yet to find my peace.
I don’t try new weather apps, because Dark Sky is perfection and peace for me. The more I think on this topic, the more examples I am likely to find, but my point has been made. When I stop talking about a topic, it is not because I have given up, but because I have instead found the internal peace I was seeking — it has nothing to do with whether or not I can still be objective about things, but whether I find value that pursuit. Often, I see no value in a pursuit once I have found my peace with the pursuit.
I have also learned there is no one formula which can be determined to decide where you might find peace. Often you may not even know if something stands a chance of giving you peace until you actually have tried it, and then one day you realize your internal struggle over this is gone.
This is not a dire struggle, it’s often not even an all consuming one, but I think it is important to recognize. To realize that if the Bic pen in your hands is peaceful for you, then there is no need to bother with something else.
Likewise, if you are on the your fifth backpack of the year, it is time to realize there’s something larger going on — beyond the fact you just like bags.
I touched on this topic over a year ago, with my introduction to ‘Little Thing‘ posts where I would talk about trying to find ideal things in random areas of my life. That was the start of exploring the push and pull between my heart and my brain when using the tools around me.
Sometimes your heart wins and you start outfitting yourself with Hard Graft, or Filson, products. And other times your brain will win and you find yourself looking at bags using cutting edge technologies and scientific approaches to load balancing. There is no wrong, and there is no right, so instead we need to look for what will put us at ease.