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Postcards from the Mind
a fun game that you can play at any moment
I once dated a guy who was terrible at texting. When one day I complained, he protested: “But I’m sending you texts all the time! I send you postcards from my mind.”
He said that whenever he saw something that made him say ‘wow,’ like a beautiful sunset or a waterfall, he would take a mental image and send it to me.
I’m not sure I received those postcards, but the notion stuck. Now I make postcards to send to my future self.
To make a postcard, I become curious about what is going on. I fully open the aperture of the present moment and take note of what appears at the six sense gates:
What do I see?
What do I feel?
What do I smell?
What do I taste?
What do I hear?
What do I think?
This morning I took a postcard at the rowing machine. I recorded the vivid brightness of the silver chain pulling in and out, the feeling of resistance on my limbs, the buzz of the whirling fan. I recorded my mental state: a warm pride in feeling physically stronger intermingled with the familiar gnaw of not-enoughness.
When I take postcards I know that they will not always reach my future self. The postcards I receive most reliably from my past self tend to be from novel states of mind.
The postcard from my time at a zen monastery repeatedly reaches me. In that postcard I am sitting in zazen staring at a screw on a wood beam. It is dusk and I’m noticing the shadows on the screw, which have changed in the dimming light.
This postcard appears to me like a Wes Anderson scene—composed as if on purpose, the frame still except for one thing: the breath. That solitary movement is the focus of the scene. It carries the signature of aliveness itself, what Christopher Alexander refers to as “the quality without a name.”
I think about that past self. She still sits there, in that moment, breathing and staring at the screw on the wood beam.
I suppose these postcards are just memories, but they are consciously constructed ones—memories I try to send to the future so that I may wave at my future self. “Hey, check out where I am. Hope all is well.”
The more postcards I create, the more I become a curious connoisseur of moments. And the more curious I become, the more interesting seemingly ordinary moments become.
For example, yesterday I felt a peculiar annoyance. I didn’t yet have a postcard of this flavor of annoyance, so I became really curious, tasting the moment fully, and recording it into a postcard. I propelled it into the future so that when I feel annoyance again I may be able to compare flavors of annoyance.
Anyway, it’s a fun game. If you make some postcards, let me know. 💌
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