I find myself constantly documenting and taking notes as I work through new ideas and learnings. When I show up to actually combine these ideas into some sort of an output or hypothesis, I only surface a subset of all that went through my mind and hands. I slice off parts that felt so critical only a few weeks ago and add parts that I wasn’t aware of even a few days ago. I clean, toss, add, and subtract information that always seems fluid. But as I take in new information, I feel the weight of responsibility to honor what came my way. To use as much of the good stuff. I feel guilt when I see the massive amounts of thinking that didn’t make it into the final product. The more I get exposed to, the more I want to respect and bring forth in my work in visible ways. This internal burden to go back and extract every last ounce weighs me down and makes forward momentum harder.
Then I started seeing all that work as compost, and it softened something inside. I imagined the yumminess of a nourishing meal with vegetables of all colors: like a roasted vegetable pasta with feta. I saw the mountain of compost with unused stems and peels in green, red and orange. I saw myself picking up the pile and adding it to a compost bag without an ounce of guilt, safe in the knowledge that all those parts would regenerate soil.
Everyone has inputs that propel their work. These inputs are often someone else’s output, like the vegetables in my pasta example. I can make my meal because farmers offered me their valued output. Could I do it any other way? My using key parts of their vegetables and discarding others is a part of the process of evolution. Of creation. The discarded parts, the stems and peels, sustained the vegetables while they were growing and even when unused by me, they’re still not trash. They hold power to replenish the earth; like the compost of all our past work holds power to replenish our future work.
“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” — Isaac Newton, physicist and mathematician