Two-thousand-fourteen has left the building through a slammed door. “Don’t forget to write!” A bit dramatic, but it wanted to have its exit acknowledged.
So, I’m writing.
I spent the end of the year in Sydney, Australia sitting on a partially submerged rock facing the iconic Harbour Bridge awaiting the New Year’s Eve Fireworks. The rock’s top was bright green with moss, its side overspread with sharp clamshells. The tide rose, threatening eviction from my “local’s only” vista. As the hours (all eleven of them) passed, I watched it near the top of my perch, and then retreat with a last laugh of a splash.
It was relatively quiet as I waited. I moved very little despite the hardened surface I shared with my partner. I was without a battery-powered distraction, and had time to take in the details of the Sydney skyline. Time to listen to the water as it pushed and pulled past itself. Time to figure out how fast and large a boat needed to be for its ripples to terminate as a splash on our rock.
I had time to get bored. For the first time in seemingly months, I lost the impulse to look at Twitter or check my email. My mind followed my eyes and was quietly taking in the foreign land we found ourselves in. Eventually the landscape became familiar, and my thoughts turned inwards. I found myself in the scary territory of reflection.
This past year has been an ebb and flow of triumph and failure that I am fortunate to have experienced and learn from. I’ve grown enough to know that I have a great deal of learning ahead of me.
One area in particular that I know that I would like to develop is my ability to write. As a designer I am professionally a communicator, working with metaphors of hierarchy, shape, color, and type. I use animation and copy to convey personality. The further I get along in my career, and in life, the more I focus on communication being simple and absolutely vital. Communication in its most basic form is language.
Language is the foundation of design, its context dictating the medium. Every aspect of what I do is fortified or destroyed by words and their use. Success is dependent on its usage. Whereas failure leads to confusion, arguments, and ultimately wasted time.
On the flight to Sydney, I listened to Dani Shapiro speak to Debbie Millman on Design Matters. I was taken aback by Dani’s comment about the window writing gave her to understand herself:
It gave shape to my inner world… on the page. I’ve never, ever known what I’m thinking… I write something, and then I read it and think “Oh, that’s what I think,” or “that’s what I’m afraid of,” or “that’s what I understand.”
I watched a boat jockey itself into position for the fireworks, the chain from the anchor slid against its stern with a metallic clang. The boat bobbed back and forth unable to defy the water’s will, but maintained its general position. I thought back to Dani’s words and realized how I could anchor myself.
So, I’m writing.