How detached can you get from your creation?


I attended a code retreat today. As part of the sessions, we were asked to design a solution and write code. At the end of the 45-minute session, the instructor would have us delete all our work. Then the next session would begin, and we would go through the same process again. Brainstorm, code, delete. Not a single line saved.

We had five such sessions. Each time I saw myself getting closer to a more elegant solution. And each time, there was heartbreak when I had to delete my work. At the end of the last session, I was contemplating a rebellion by keeping my work saved. Of course, I didn’t really rebel.

I found it tough to let go. I have read this several times – Never fall in love with your work. Create, get done, and then detach yourself from your creation. Easier said than done. Yet, each time I did delete a solution, it drove me to create something better. It was agonizing yet also cathartic to let go and start anew.

Ok, so here are my questions. As a creator, have you been in such a situation? Did you have to abandon something you did (even if it was one of your better works) and then start all over again? How did it make you feel?


Chained to escape

When I leave this place
I would like to take a handful of the wind in my pocket,
and a bit of salt from the soil in my breath.

And even though your velvet fingers will tighten their grip,
I will have to leave through the tunnel.

I will have to leave and grab another ray of light.

I will have to hear gypsies playing flutes in the corner of the town.

Leave I must.

For the desert has cast its eyes on me,
it has chained me to escape this place.

The sea calls too, with its arms spread from coast to coast.
Its wailing waves, its patient sand,
both wait like a still chameleon with wandering eyeballs.

So I step onto the cloud and see where the wind takes me.

You can tiptoe into my dreams,
you can pedal away with me into the sunset.

You can even shoot a poem into my tent.

Or you can keep your face pressed against the looking glass.

I will see you when I have come back to this door.
Maybe if I have jumped through a time warp,
we will both be the same,
you and I.

Meet me at the shoulder of the river

Meet me at the shoulder of the river.

I will show you how the universe opens itself like a book.
You don’t have to know the language, or even the script.

Come sit on the banks
painted by the first rays of the orange sun.
Let your feet dangle in the air,
let the distant groan of the automobile
be buried by the voice of the river.

Come when no one is watching your silhouette slip away.

Come with a million voyages swimming in your head
where the fragrance of one town drifts into another.

And when you are here, wait a while
until the remnants of yesterday have been erased.

Until you have forgotten your way back to the mansion.

Then you will be free to venture with me
through mountains of smoke,
through the laughter of the insect,
through cities shaped by centuries,
through villages where grass mingles with metal,
through countries fenced in by wars.

You will be free to fall
into the valley of the vagabond.

One of those days,
you will do handstands in the sky.

Time travel glitch

He ran fast, faster even than light, so fast that he found himself back in time. He had reached a point just before his childhood. He quickened his pace, eager to blaze through his infancy and get back to that much cherished phase of life – childhood. Only when he reached the day of his birth did he realize his fallacy.

As an infant, he would have to crawl, before he could even walk. Running faster than light? Balls!

Horizontal freefall

My roots have detached themselves from my toes.
Trees howl at my feet,
and silence fills my pockets.

I know it will die soon.
It’s the silence before the sound of insane movement.

A caravan tastes the air outside my home.
The sight of yesterday’s moon is fading in my head.

Beyond the waterfall,
a dog has befriended a monkey
and is learning to dance like him.

The monkey needs a new pastime.

The minstrel stitches up a new song
while a few eyeballs sit on the couch making mechanical love to the television.

Somewhere in a park,
runners hum tunes to the rhythm of bouncing feet.

Butterflies script their songs on stamens,
their quivering wings looking out for predators
while their feet bury themselves in nectar.

I am climbing the rainbow one colour at a time.
I am also learning to split the wind.

When I am tired, I jingle words collected in a jar.
I love to hear their sounds as they crash into each other.
Sometimes their offspring sound like music.

Then I pick a word,
toss it across the river,
and watch it bounce several times on the face of the water.

I think it is happiest
when it skips forward
without worrying when it will sink.

Even though it has to sink.

Looking for the other end of the earth

She carves her name on stones,
buries them in the ground,
and hopes they will be found one day
by an archaelogist with square-tipped fingers.

She listens to Morrison,
and paints poems in her mind.

She loves her feet.
Yeah, she loves her feet
as they weave trails on deserted streets.
She bounces words off her walls,
and listens in on the echoes.

On some days she picks up a telescope
and looks for her dreams between the stars.
She thinks she can smell the sound they make.

She looks for molten diamonds under the rocks,
And replaces them with forgotten heroes.
Her lovers drop daffodils outside her window,
but she’s already sniffing tomorrow’s roses.

She looks into the mirror
and imagines herself doing pirouettes,
then shakes her head when the leaves laugh.

Hitchhiking into the forest,
she runs into herself,
and too nervous to say hello,
she draws a curtain of mountains around herself.

She falls in love with random pages.
She puts them together and reads the story aloud.
But hey there’s no audience, yea we do have a crowd.

She asks the trees why their faces are sullen;
their answers leave her unsatisfied.

So she jumps into a hole in the ground,
leaving for the other end of the earth.