bookmark_borderMy Waystone Friends

There’s something to be said about the people in your life with whom you feel you can never get enough time with. 

As we get older, it’s harder to make new friends. That’s a natural phenomenon. Sometimes, you fall out of friendships because of newly discovered differences. Other times, you’ve simply grown apart. Bittersweet as it may be, it’s nice to cherish shared memories. Nobody can take those away from you. Yet, guilt is a tough feeling to untangle from it. How could you so easily let go of someone who once meant so much to you? It just happens, and it happens to everyone. 

The good news is that a bridge will stay standing until you set it ablaze. The “bad” news is that you never really cross it anymore. It’s not a part of your path as it once used to be. 

As I look back at my relatively short period of time alive–I see memories of happiness with a multitude of people. Many of them, I’m no longer acquainted with. I’m not at their top of mind, and they aren’t at the top of mine. Yet, something gnaws at me. Am I to simply forget the girl I spent hours talking to about the state of the music industry? Am I to forget my old classmate who I shared many walks with, speculating over the contents of an upcoming exam on our way to class? Am I to forget the guy I shared ramen with, imparting my wisdom from my benefit of being a year older? Am I to forget the countless other friends, who were fleeting presences in my life, a blip on the radar? Yes. I can forget them and they can forget me, but we’ll both keep the memories. 

If I were to see them again, I’d probably settle for a knowing smile and a friendly nod. After all, the unspoken bond is an indelible one. We formed tracts in each others’ consciousness, and that made us the people we are today. Many friendships are Hershey kisses, sweet but fleeting. 

In my camera roll, I’m greeted by faces of an unfamiliar past. With many memories, I see a lot of misses. Missed connections, misunderstandings, and misfortune. But that’s life, right? It’s the downs that makes the ups feel more…uppity (contrast is a hell of a thing). It’s a hot, fudge brownie paired with a smooth vanilla ice cream. 

I intend to keep making friends. It comes as easily to me as my inhales and exhales. However, I wish to find more of a second kind of friend–not the fleeting kind, but the enduring kind. 

What I said earlier refers to this kind of friend–

There’s something to be said about the people in your life with whom you feel you can never get enough time with. 

This is the person you can go months without seeing or hearing from, yet once you get back together, it’s like no time has gone by at all. This is the friend who feels comfortable going on at length about themselves, sharing equal enthusiasm in your own tales. You amplify each other’s energies, hanging onto each other’s every word. They are the friends who are on your wavelength. The friend that makes you feel that their companionship is enough for a lifetime. 

I struggled to find a word that captured this type of relationship until one day, the word Waystone popped into my head. It’s perfect. I thought. And it is. 

In Minecraft, there are things called Waystones – “A Waystone is a craftable structure added by Waystones that can be found throughout the world, primarily in Villages. By interacting with one, it is possible to teleport between these using levels.” (link)

These few that I refer to as my waystone friends mean a lot to me. The only reason we found each other is that I had to meet a lot of people and hang with tons of fleeting friends. One waystone friend is worth at least 100 fleeting friends. 

It’s always stress relieving to talk to them; you love hearing about their day, catching up on the tea spills and ticking the days off on the calendar for when you’ll get to see them again.

You may be separated by distance, yet there is warmth in every message, every image sent, every utterance. You’re proud of them and you’re each working in your little corners of the world. It feels more *real* when you interact with them. 

There is no set criteria for a waystone friend. I think it defeats the point to try and assign one. However, a core trait of a waystone friend is how they make you feel. You may feel weightless, or you feel grounded by their existence. Some of my waystone friends aren’t top of mind for me, nor I for them. But that’s just it. We can always pick right back up where we left off. The details are irrelevant, it’s the emotion behind them that matters. 

The critical thing is they make you feel comfortable to be you. They nudge you to be better, aim higher, and keep your chin up. They provide you with the perspective. They teleport you into their world and their happenings with an earnest desire to share what’s going on. Not every friendship or acquaintance is like this. Waystone friends are the closest you could get to a supportive family that’s not biologically related to you. 

I hope that as I get older, while my overall social circle might understandably get smaller, the waystones become stronger. I hope that the connections that remain, strengthen. 

To all my waystone friends. ‘Til we hang again. 🍻

bookmark_borderNo, You Shouldn’t Type Your Morning Pages

This is in response to a lot of posts I’ve seen on my feeds about Morning Pages.

Don’t waste your time

I know what you’re thinking. But typing them is so convenient! Good observation. That’s exactly the problem. When you type your morning pages you’re making a mistake because it’s too easy.

What you find when you first start writing morning pages is that some days you’ll have more to say than others. Sometimes, it’ll only take you a few minutes to burn through them and other times, you’re left scraping your mind for more.

When you type, you write fast. When you write fast, you think fast. When you think fast, you think shallow. That fundamentally misses the point of writing morning pages.

You may think that capturing more thoughts quickly is a good thing. After all, that’s more content to work with and examine, right? Not really. You’ve just skimmed the surface for what you think is valuable in favor of covering more area. There’s also the camp that believes by completing brain dumps, you can get into a mindset that lets you make serendipitous connections.

Gardening With Purpose

While this can work to a certain extent, the difference is that you’re sending thousands of seeds onto a plot of land and connecting the dots as you spread them. Why not slow down and give each individual seed its rightful attention? When you build a solid foundation, and have examined the possibilities, it actually becomes easier to come up with unique combinations of ideas. The hyper stream-of-consciousness allows you to generate more saplings of ideas but they aren’t rooted as deeply. You haven’t really considered as many aspects of those thoughts and feelings than if you were writing slower.

If you skimp on the materials for the foundation, anything else you build on top will be flimsy as well. Then, you’re left having to go back and salvage those ideas if you want to use them again. Great insights don’t come to those who wade in the coastal waters. They come to those who risk it all to sweep the ocean floor.

Childlike Mentality

When you first learned how to write as a kid, you needed to follow explicit guidelines. Through deliberately practicing you got better. You had to focus and concentrate at first to get the hang of matching sounds to letters and how they looked on a page. It would’ve taken you much longer to learn to write if you simply went about the process prioritizing speed over accuracy.

Consider a study done with German kindergarten students. Researchers were testing the idea that the relatively frictionless method of typing accelerated reading and writing in young children. The results showed that the handwriting group could write and read words much better than the typing group. A contradiction. There wasn’t enough proof in the data to suggest that typing was better for uptake than handwriting. Speed itself doesn’t carry the implication of acquiring understanding and improvement.

Reduce Friction, but at What Cost?

As for my own creating process, my preference is to reduce friction in whatever I’m doing. It seems like that’s the ultimate goal. But friction is important. Without it, 12-wheelers would be sliding off icy roads and life would be unlivable.

Similarly, when typing morning pages, your thoughts are unmoored. They’re streamed from conception to reality with little gap or ponder time.

This is why I prefer handwriting my journal entries. Sure, I can’t get out all my thoughts as fast but by slowing down, I’m able to really consider what I’m writing. There’s something humbling about such a human constraint. I’m forced to linger on the words, thoughts and ideas I’m thinking about. That’s what morning pages are for me. They allow me to go deeper with ideas as I write them. I process my insights differently.

It makes sense. There’s a reason why studies have found that students who hand wrote their notes were able to perform better on answering conceptual questions. When you go from mind to page and seamlessly port the information, you don’t give yourself enough time to actually process what you’re writing. When you slow down, you force yourself to rephrase or reconsider ways to note the things you’re trying to say in a more effective way. This is only possible with deeper consideration of the thoughts you have. That’s what makes journaling and writing morning pages interesting.

I can’t just rush through the forest of my thoughts to get to some predetermined end point every time. It’s physically impossible. I can, however, take a few moments to admire the saplings I stopped to plant last week.

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Thanks to Joe and Cullin for beta-testing this essay.