Consider: Selective Skimming™
In which for some reason I share my secrets & my diary
I read this essay on butterfly collecting.
And look, before you say anything: I KNOW.
[Why is it that anything remotely related to “self-reflection” is just so...corny? I vow to eventually put together some liturgical summit on divorcing the act of caring about one’s own curiosity from twee shorthand, but not today!]
Just stick with me for a second — and this is no dig to the essay writer, who actually writes nothing about butterflies but rather the butterfly NET.
A one-time collector of butterflies (which…fine, kind of cool), he explains the task of embarking on walks, net in hand:
“Perhaps it has to do with the way the net declares my intention, which is to apprehend what is in front of me….Walking with the net is like reading with a pencil in hand. The pencil means you want to catch the sense of what you are reading…You may think you can read with the same quality of attention while lying in bed at night without a pencil, but you can’t. The mind notices your posture and models itself accordingly…As with the pencil, so with the net: Both declare the possibility of action, and that possibility changes the person holding the tool.”
A frequent question I get re: Moon Lists is about process — how I research, or where I find ideas for prompts, or if I have suggestions for books/resources where one might locate similar ways of thinking. To be honest, I don’t often respond. Not because I don’t appreciate these very sincere, well intentioned messages—I love them!—but it just isn’t as simple as just sending you a link & adding to cart.
If I sit down and really think about it, my honest A to the Q is about training your eyes and brain to operate in new ways.
I call this Selective Skimming™ — and think it works for everything. Be it coming up with a creative solution, a new idea, a writing topic, a question for yourself, a conversational prompt, a tattoo, a free idea for what to call your DTC tinned fish venture, et al. The process is flipping the role of consumption so that you’re the one in the driver’s seat.
My method is as follows: