"sam is typing..."

(A Blog by Sam Marshall)

Nothing I make is finished

2019 01 13

Often you do something and then it’s done. finished. You don’t worry about it any more.

Instead of this, I’ve been trying to see the things that I make as ‘never finished’. I can always change something, always improve it. If I made a mistake I didn’t see at the time, I can fix it now. This is a much more organic, incremental view of life. While this isn’t a brand new thought of me, I feel like it has grown and changed - which I think you’ll agree is fitting.

When I say something is finished, it’s almost like saying it’s dead. If it’s finished it can’t change or grow any more. I’d never say a tree or a plant was finished, at least not until it wasn’t there anymore. By seeing the things we make as never finished (note: not ‘unfinished’, it has a very different feel to it. Plus, I've already used it for a related, but different thought) we always feel comfortable updating and changing them, and things move towards ‘better’ always, with exactly the amount of effort we have to spare right now.

I really like the idea of ‘scouting’, of always leaving things better than you found them, which the ‘Nothing is ever finished’ philosophy ties into really well. This philosophy focuses on changing what you can, and at the time it will have the most impact. It avoids spending a lot of time upfront on something that you eventually never come back to. This has the added bonus that the places you spend the most time are the places you’ve improved the most.

We must give some thought to how we spend our time. Because we’re only addressing something when we need to, we don’t need to hold everything in our mind. It does require that we write down and store information so that we can get context for things, but I think that’s a good idea anyway. I find this means I can let go of trying to remember things, which in turn lets go of a lot of stress.

I’m definitely not the only one to reach this conclusion. Mr Rogers, for example, kept his old shows perennial by updating them when he thought they were wrong. I found from reading Henry David Thoreau's journals that he revisited old entries, updating them with new findings and thoughts that were relevant. More recently, the Progressive Summarisation technique brings this idea to a note-taking system, work is only done on a note when it is being accessed anyway.

So far this way of viewing things is really exiting to me. I’m a sucker for progression and this focuses on getting improvement in the best place possible, where it matters.