Why you get your best ideas in the shower

#backtosix weekend

#backtosix weekend

There’s a close link between originality, novelty, and creativity... and these sort of spontaneous thoughts that we generate when our minds are idle.

My mom used to save all the bread bags for me because I liked to fill them with rocks.

I grew up in a little town in Ohio, so my pickings were not all gravel but mostly gravel. I essentially curated the best of the gravel. You know those super sparkly, dusty white gravel rocks? Loved those. 

I got a geode for Christmas once. It was intact, so you got to crack it open yourself to see the crystals inside. I remember my dad and I negotiating about the right way to do it (a hammer? a pick? both?) and I just didn’t want to get it wrong. Over and over I’d decide, “Not just yet.” I think that geode is still intact in my mom’s attic somewhere.

One summer all of us neighborhood kids built a gypsy camp in our backyard out of sheets and cardboard. We found a can of gold spray paint in someone’s garage and went to town on some of my rocks. Currency.

My favorite Smithsonian? Easy. The Natural History Museum, geology and gems exhibit.

I brought one of my favorite rocks with me to college. I met a really cool guy there who had, incidentally, also brought his favorite rock to college. When I went to Vietnam that first summer, we swapped rocks. Through years of travel and time apart finding our paths, we both kept each other’s rocks - in our pockets, our favorite boxes, our top drawers. Ten years later we’re married and I still consider those rocks to be the omen that sealed the deal.

I’ve been thinking about rock collecting lately because last weekend I went on a women’s retreat in the fairyland that is the redwood forest. No cell phones or red wine; just tea parties, singing songs and foraging for cool rocks in the woods. We kept joking that everything felt very #backtosix.

The irony of the fact that we were talking with hashtags in the woods made the situation even better, and it was perfect because I read an article recently about how, now that we have smartphones, our minds are rarely idle the way they used to be in all the in-betweens - and that’s making us less creative. "There’s a close link between originality, novelty, and creativity... and these sort of spontaneous thoughts that we generate when our minds are idle.”

This is why so many of us get our best ideas in the shower. It’s often the only time in our daily routine when we’re disconnected from inputs and especially our devices; we can instead integrate what we’ve previously seen, heard, and experienced. That means making new connections and getting a wider perspective. Thank goodness for that.

As someone whose livelihood depends on creativity, I set three intentions for this summer:

  1. Pat myself on the back for taking showers

  2. Go #backtosix as often as possible

  3. Find that geode in my mom’s attic and crack it open asap