Just Walk Away

April 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

Lately I’ve had a couple of incidents that reminded me of the power of just walking away from a problem and letting it simmer for a while.

The back burner can be a wonderful place to get things done!

If you’ve spent any amount of time working in an industry where the main interaction with your job is build something, then you will probably find that a large amount of your work happens in your own head. This topic always reminds me of one of my all time favorite blog posts on the subject “The Case for Slow Programming.” In it, the author mentions that he actually does a lot of coding outside of his office setting- away from the keyboard. Now, I know being away from the keyboard is a scary concept at times, but I tend to agree with the author: some of my best solutions have come whilst I’m doing totally unrelated tasks, like cooking. Or pruning the roses. Or DEFINITELY sewing. (On a side editorial, did you know that sewing is just architecture in disguise? True story.)  Because like I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m a 40-year-old housewife that came into being in about half that time.

But in all seriousness, it seems that others have had similar thoughts. For instance- and you’re going to laugh at the reference for this quote:

Eccentric artist Salvador Dali believed that one of the secrets to becoming a great painter was what he called “slumber with a key.” “Slumber with a key” was an afternoon siesta designed to last no longer than a second. To accomplish this micro nap, Dali recommended sitting in a chair with a heavy metal key pressed between the thumb and forefinger of the left hand. A plate would be placed upside down on the floor underneath the hand with the key. The moment Dali fell asleep, the key would slip from his finger, clang the plate, and awaken him. Dali believed this tiny nap “revivified” an artist’s whole “physical and physic being.”

Dali said that he had learned the “slumber with a key” trick from the Capuchin monks and that other artists he knew also used it. Albert Einstein “napped” this way as well, as have other inventors and thinkers who believed this nap inspired their ideas and creativity. These men were unknowingly taking advantage of what scientists today call the “hypnogogic” nap, when the mind, before it reaches Stage 2 sleep, unlocks free flowing creative thoughts.

I find it fascinating what the mind can do while under (and not under) external pressure.

So the next time Xcode starts swimming in front of my eyes and even switching up the theme won’t help, just remember: walking away is a beautiful thing.

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