dogs

information hound

Yup, that's my goofy pup.

Yup, that's my goofy pup.

My dog is, without a doubt, the most distracted creature on God’s green earth. This may be in part because my dog loves to sniff. Let me rephrase that: she lives to sniff. Everything.
To be honest, it doesn’t even seem healthy how much she likes sniffing. I think it’s her goal in life to sniff every nook, cranny and crevasse on this fair planet. She’s well on her way, but she still has a lot of ground to cover.

One thing I realized about dogs is this: sniffing is a dog’s way of gaining information. I often wonder what sort of information my dog picks up in all her sniffing sniffery. Does she learn something about the other people and animals who have passed by a particular spot? And what good does all this sniffing do for her?

But dogs aren’t the only information hounds around. These days, the hunt for information has become more than a passing trend, it’s an epidemic. Whether we go out looking for it or not, we’re bombarded with tons of targeted information on a daily basis: billboards, tv commercials, radio shows, music, news articles, social media shares, and on and on. It’s a variable sea of info.

Though we don’t invite all of it into our heads, life can sometimes fall into a frantic info hunt. It’s an unusual image, but if we sniffed every time we were hunting down info, we’d probably look even crazier than the dogs. These days, we’ve become obsessed with information to the point where I question just how healthy our endless quest for more it really is. Sure, information can be useful, but how much of it do we actually use? It’s a small percentage in comparison to how much we take in.

I don’t know the exact quote, but I recall reading in one of the Sherlock Holmes books an interesting conversation between the titular detective and his faithful assistant. Watson had just spouted off some random fact (I believe about the moon) and Holmes’ response was that he would be sure to forget it immediately. Watson expressed surprise and Holmes explained how he saw the mind as a steel trap with only so much room in it: whenever something new comes in, something else gets pushed out, so he is careful to guard what goes in.

While I imagine there are more accurate metaphors for our mental capacity, this little section of a story has stuck in my mind. How many useful things have gotten smothered by all the trivial junk I take in? It’s something to ponder.

As creatives, we must guard our minds and the time we spend filling them. Yes, we need our noses to the ground, sniffing out creative trails, but we must be careful about the things which lead us off the scent, away from our own creative game, further from our purpose.

We must be careful, lest we become like the ancient mariner in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, who was surrounded by water but found none of it could quench his thirst. In my own twist on the old poem, we have:

Info, info, everywhere,
Yet no one stops to think.

Sometimes I worry we are headed for a world with so much information, we are in danger of drowning in it. It takes creative focus to learn how to filter all that flotsam into something of use, something which not only floats but actually transports us where we need to go. So let’s take the time necessary to process the information we do have and consider how to use it for creative ends before consuming more of the stuff.

 

Creatively yours,
A.P. Lambert

 

Hey Creatives, do you ever feel overwhelmed by information? Let us know in the comments below.

the problem with small

Here’s a thing I’ve noticed: small dogs can be pretty dang annoying (my apologies if you own a small dog, but it’s true). Yes, they can be cute as well, but too often they bark nonstop and are totally out of control like a kid on cotton candy crack.

But you know what, I don’t think it’s the dog’s fault. The problem, as I see it, is many small dog owners (to clarify, the owners are normal-sized, it’s their canines who are small here—well, the owners could be small, but that’s irrelevant) don’t think training their dog is important. Why is this? Likely because it’s easy to overpower the dog to make it do what they want. They don’t have to teach the dog to obey and so they don’t.

So I’ve got a bone to pick with these people: just because their dog is small doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. Dog training benefits everyone, not just the owner, regardless of the dog’s size.

Alright, I’ve said my peace. Before I bark too much up the same tree, let me get to the point:
We make the same error with our own creative pursuits. We think small means unimportant. Small tasks can be left for later, we can get to small projects when we have free time (yeah right), no one’s going to notice those small details. And, when it comes to free time (or the lack thereof) often it is the small distractions, the ones we hardly notice, which eat up the majority of our time.

As a matter of fact (and a fact of matter), big things are built from smaller things. If you don’t believe me, use a microscope some time. If we don’t commit to taking the hundreds or thousands of small steps to a big goal, we’ll never reach it. Instead, let’s treat the small things (both the helpful and harmful) with the same attention and respect as the big. Small, my furry friends, is the way to go.

Zechariah 4:10 asks, “For who has despised the day of small things?”

Let it not be you. Do the small and the big will come right on your tail.

And really, I like dogs of all sizes, so long as they’re well-behaved. So quiet the little yapper inside of you who tells you small things don’t matter, because they do, do, do!

 

Hey Creatives, do you often find that you put off small tasks, and how do you stay on track? Let us know in the comments below.