Happiness is a Warm Spreadsheet

Picture a battleground on which armies of circus performers and accountants are locked in eternal combat, one side wanting to release flocks of brightly coloured balloons into the sky just to see what happens as they are caught in the wind while the other side has Definite Views on the irresponsibility of balloon release and insists that all balloons be thoroughly shredded, weighed and measured before possibly considering a controlled release scenario involving safety nets and machine guns to shoot down any balloons that get out of control. It’s a war y’all, and it’s good for absolutely nothing.

Welcome to my world, where the circus and accountants represent the two sides of my brain and their tendency to fight each other while I stand in the middle pleading with them to stop hurting me and just try to play nicely with one another. When they pull together life feels great and I do outstanding work. But when they fight? Well, I’ll just say my productivity is compromised and life does not feel good and leave the rest to your imagination.

Brains are not meant to fight like this, I’m sure. In normal neurotypical brain development one side will gain a permanent upper hand, but I don’t seem to have developed in that way. I got extra helpings of limb independence and flexible handedness, but I also got brain fights and I’ve had to do a lot of work learning to manage conflicts that seem to particularly impact self-expression. I am both the accountants and the circus, but I had to learn to step outside myself to play diplomat and get the brain factions to appreciate and negotiate with one another.

Hey circus, wouldn’t it be great if you had someone to help you work out how to break down your project ideas into steps so that you can get on with them instead of getting stuck in a muddle? The accountants are good at that kind of thing.

Hey accountants, wouldn’t it be great if you had an interesting pile of data to sort through and analyse to keep you from getting bored? Those project ideas over on the circus side look like they’re full of juicy data.

Hey circus, wouldn’t it be great if you had someone to help you stay focused so that the thing your idea becomes has a stronger relationship to what you wanted it to be? Accountants can be great at that.

Hey accountants, you know how you’re really rigid and get fixated on things then every so often feel awful because you realise you’ve been stuck on something completely pointless? What if you could use that rigidity to help the circus achieve something wonderful and feel good instead?

Hey circus, I know that for you just making something beautiful is a good enough reason to make something. But what if you set out to make something that’s useful as well as beautiful? It might be even more satisfying for you, and it would get the accountants interested because they love functionality.

Hey accountants, you know how you hate things not working even more than you hate change? I hear the circus is coming up with some ideas for useful things and could use your input on functionality. I bet if you worked together you could create something really useful, and what could be more beautiful than utility?

Beauty and utility; that’s the compromise that gets the circus and the accountants willing to work together. The conference room where they hash out their differences on any given project is the humble spreadsheet. It’s painful for the circus to hand an idea full of love and fireworks to the accountants and watch them rip it to shreds. But then the accountants honour the idea and say “working on task x now will help you move on to tasks y and z so you can meet goal a” or make practical suggestions for getting things done without spending loads of time, money or energy. And then I have a ceasefire on a spreadsheet instead of a battle in my brain, and I can feel happy about ideas turning up instead of dreading dealing with them.

Sound Ideas

Sometimes songs slide out of nowhere as lyrics and melody. It sounds simple and easy, but actually I find them difficult to work with. It’s like having an out of control kite that keeps flitting around and occasionally diving and hitting you in the face. I need to grab the kite to modify it, but how do I do it when I don’t have the kite string in my hands? I often find it helpful to force together images relating to ideas, preferably in odd ways so that they merge into something large, funny and easy to remember. There’s a song I want to work on currently called Take Out Time, and these are the sort of images that I connect to it.

Images courtesy of Victor Habbick, nuttakit, Cnaene, franky242, dan, Aleksa D, Vlado, Tina Phillips, Serge Bertasius Photography & Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net