The exact right pen. The exact right paper. The exact right app. The exact right tools for the job. Are they a necessity? Not always. Can we get the job done with a scratchy pencil and a cheap napkin? If we need to. But does it nourish us to have to have the tools the we visualize when we are imagining how to accomplish our goals? Absolutely.

Notes and full transcript:


Hey, everyone, thanks for tuning in.

So you know that thing, where we buy office supplies, planners, markers, pens, whatever it is for you. I have learned to avoid planners except my own the one I'm working on the one that I got most of the way through last year and then stopped using. The one that I will pick up again this year because it was a good process.

Even if I didn't end up doing most of the things on my big list. I did some big things. And I added a bunch of stuff that wasn't on there originally. But that worked out well. I didn't redo my whole website. But I built a whole membership website with help. I didn't move to Seattle, but I moved to Portland. Some of the things just didn't turn out to be the things that I thought they would be. And that's fine.

And some of the things didn't turn out to be accomplishable. Because I knew that I wouldn't be doing all of the things on the list. I just didn't know which things it would be, and I like to start with choices. I like to finish with choices. I like to have choices. But this is a pass for the, for the very real desire to have lovely, elegant, lush things. I want to tell you, that is such an intensive quality to want the beautiful, elegant, perfect thing; to find the exact right system; to have the perfect pen. with exactly the right kind of glide.

Some people like their fountain pen scratchy, some people prefer the glide of a gel. Some people like the practicality of a ballpoint. I'm a little of all three and then sometimes I'm the person who picks up an actual paintbrush and some actual ink and dips the paintbrush in the ink and writes with that. You never know.

But I think we have to stop hating that that's what we do. That we collect beautiful things that are useful, that invite themselves into our hands. That's just how most of us are. We collect beautiful things that invite themselves into our hands. And it's good for us. It's good. And when I hold a tool that was made with the kind of care and love and quality that tools, I think, should be made with.... that's designed to be used over and over. A Blackwing pencil that's designed to be worn down to a nub. Or a handplane. A Garrett Wade handplane, exquisitely machined. Or something that I made for myself.

The Banyan. Even though it's a muslin, the Banyan that I made for myself, where the shoulders fit just right and the sleeves are the right length. And I like the color and it's bright and interesting. I just have to finish putting the buttons on. It's not quite done. And maybe put a lining in because now I live in a place where a lining would be helpful.

But even in its not-quite-completed state, it feels just right to put it on and have it fit. Even though it was made out of IKEA curtains that were donated- even a little bit because it was made out of IKEA curtains that were donated. It fits. It feels like me. Like yes, this is me. I am the person who likes to take discarded things and make them into something else useful and beautiful. And in this case, in this case, it's cotton IKEA curtains that are useful and beautiful. And just the right amount of warm to get me from my bed to the kitchen to a snack and a drink and my meds.

The exquisitely perfectly fitted thing, that is our bread and butter. Our bread and butter is not simple. It is homemade. The butter has extra fat. The bread has been risen- springy and yeasty and toothsome. And delicious. And our pens and our paper, our paints. The fact that we need art supplies to make a planner work or that we need exactly the right app. And we spend hours looking for the right thing, the right environment.

That's nurturing. That's nourishing. That's like amending the soil in the garden of ourselves. It's like ordering the right seeds from the right company. Or going over to the neighbor and collecting the divided irises so they can go in our gardens. There is something just right about having beautiful, perfect tools for what we want. The imagination of the action being so vivid, that we cannot perform that action any other way. And simultaneously knowing that if the Muse is loud enough, we will pull that Ticonderoga pencil, and that scratchy napkin out of our pocket, and there will still be a poem.

Both are true. But just because we can do the thing with the pencil and the scratchy napkin doesn't mean we shouldn't also have the tools to sit down in the 18th century shirt, with the dip pen, and the walnut ink, and the hand-pressed paper. That's also us. And even- you know, there's that joke that goes around about how acquiring art supplies and using art supplies are two different hobbies.

Even if the acquisition is the thing, even if curating your own collection is the thing, even if being able to shop your basement or your office closet is the thing, that thing is facilitating you and you are valuable, you are worth facilitation. And meeting your needs in that way, meeting your needs in the little ways that you can, gives you more latitude, more flexibility, more space for the moments when it has to be the scratchy napkin and the Ticonderoga pencil that keeps tearing the paper, as you try urgently to write down the threads of the story before they slip away into the night.

One facilitates the other. We are scrappy, because we are nourished. And that's not just us, of course. It's us. It's our people. And it's strangers. The more nourishment we put into the world, the more resilience emerges out of it. The more creativity emerges out of it, the more possibility emerges out of it.

And we cannot know and cannot demand what that will be. But that does not release us from our responsibility to feed ourselves and others.

Thanks for tuning in.