Even though it’s spring, I want to go into hibernation. I’ve finally wrapped up work on my first book, which means I’m both buoyantly happy and bone-deep weary. This is natural, though. The creative cycle is often described as a continuous flow between two or more states of input and output. My favorite version imagines these modes as inhaling (learning, gathering reference or materials, absorbing inspiration) and exhaling (actually creating the work and bringing it out into the world). By this metaphor, my lungs are totally empty and I’m ready to sleep clear through until release day. But since I’m not blessed with a bear’s powers of slumber, today I’ll talk about what analog life can do for you when you’re out of gas, or at rest—when you’re not making anything.
Or at its most extreme, when you can’t make anything. During a particularly bad episode of wrist pain, I couldn’t draw or write as I normally do. I was limited to an hour of both total per day before it physically hurt too much to continue. But I could still enjoy my journals by changing the way I thought they needed to be used. One example: I started using the BK’s make-your-own notebook as a place to do stream-of-consciousness writing…with my non-dominant left hand. I had enthusiastically selected a variety of papers for this notebook based solely on colors and aesthetics. Of course, that meant that I had no idea how to use all these pages that were totally different from one another—some bumpy, some wafer-thin, some dark-colored—in an organized way. Well, then, forget organization. Once I stopped worrying about making the contents suit the papers, I ran wild through the constantly changing textures and patterns of the paper with the reckless, clumsy writing of my untrained hand. I felt like a kid again. I’m usually pretty organized and intentional about what I use any given notebook for. But in this case, the experience of writing in the moment mattered much more than the record it left behind. These papers are totally illegible, and that’s completely fine.
Beyond changing how analog items are used, another way to enjoy them is to give them a break from being tools at all—to just admire a journal, pen, case or notepad for how it looks and was made. This is especially easy and fulfilling to do when the materials are so handsome and the craftsmanship so evident! Depending on the degree of your obsession, this could mean setting your favorite analogue item in a spot you can see it as you go about your work…or it could mean that a shaft of sunlight hitting your TN in the afternoon could send you into a reverie about where each scratch and water mark came from, ending in a full-on photoshoot, just for fun. Not that I’d know anything about that.
Writing with my left hand was a refreshing change that gave my right hand time to heal (I went to physical therapy and am managing much better now). Taking empty, unconstructed time to just look at and appreciate what’s around me was a mental balm. These are all obvious statements for me to make now. But it wasn’t easy to learn these lessons, and it’s not easy to retain them. That’s because—to get punk rock for a second here—capitalism tells us the lie that we are only as valuable as our labor. Society reinforces the idea that there is no difference between who you are and what you produce. “Hustle culture”. “Monetize your hobbies”. “Treat your free time like your second job”. Why? And for whose benefit? We must unlearn and question this kind of thinking whenever possible. Play, rest and healing are a human necessity, not a luxury for the “deserving”. Notice, too, that the very same people who glorify sacrificing well-being for work may also, in the next heartbeat, judge people for what they use their earnings for. “Why would you spend your money on that? Isn’t that kind of…materialistic?”
Is an analog lifestyle materialistic to the point of detriment?
Does something need to have a clear purpose or function in order to be enjoyed?
If I could no longer write, work or create as easily or regularly, would I cease to have value?
Is my left hand worth less than my right hand?
Answer however you want, but don’t let anyone else answer for you.
We can choose to release ourselves and our surroundings from pure function, optimization and instagrammability. Strip those away, and objects become once again curious and wonderful. Not too different from an eye-catching shell found on the beach or a leaf plucked gently from the sidewalk. Your possessions are, after all, physical presences, part of your environment. What good vibes can your tools give off? What sensory joys do you want to have on hand? When the answer changes, reshape your landscape. That shift, that power is always possible to give ourselves too. When the body is at its limit and the mind needs rest, in order to heal, we let ourselves be. Breathe deep. And enjoy.
Text and photos by: A.C. Esguerra
Where to find A.C. : instagram @blueludebar
BK Artifacts featured:
- Traveler's Notebook Regular - Camel
- Travel For Life Wallet
- TN / 030 / Brass Clip
- TSL x BK "Wabi Sabi" Brass Charm
- Engineer Pouch with Pockets
Read other stories by A.C. : Here
Your post resonated with me deeply and inspired me to share my story.
Almost all of of the 35+ I worked, I longed for the freedom to spend hours on end writing and other activities activities that feed my soul and finally, in 2006, just 16 days shy of my 51st birthday i(Sept. 17th). I raced home leaving the daily commute and soul-stifling job behind. And yet it took me a couple of years to wean myself away for deep-seated anxiety that continued to live in my mind, heart and body.
For some strange reason, I remained stuck. Eventually, I understood the issue and took steps, slow but steady steps to cleanse the toxicity through journaling (I revived and fine-tunedan old and sporadic practice and sketching (a fun and adventurous new activity I adopted in 2014).
Productivity really did number on me. It roped in me, dominated me and infiltrated the deepest inner core of my being (mentally, emotionally and physically).
My name is Cheryl and I am no longer controlled by the need to be “productive’.
I spend hours on end writing/journaling, sketching and several other activities that refresh, relaxes, nurtures and fulfill me on every level. My days are full and free and blissful.
Thank you so much for sharing.
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