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Constraints are USUALLY seen in a negative light.

Google defines it as:

a limitation or restriction

Here’s some example constraints that we find in the world around us, which we often view as an annoyance or frustration:

  • I have to be to work by 9a

  • I have to get up at 7a

  • I have $50 to spend on entertainment this month

  • This paper must be at least 8 pages long

  • I have only 30 minutes of time to myself every day between work and family and sleep

  • And many, many more. Some trivial, some not.

Obviously, no one pops out of bed in the morning thrilled that they have a limited amount of money to spend on something.

Constraints relate to prioritization, which means you don’t actually have to follow them, you just have to care if the item producing the constraint matters to you.

Easy example: I don’t follow many rules of writing, or anything really, when writing on my own website, because… I can do whatever I want. I have goals and ideals with my writing, but they’re more like aspirations than constraints.

I can stick in unrelated images and comics wherever I want, if I so choose.

XKCD Alt text: The worst part is when the sidewalk cracks are out of sync with your natural stride XKCD Alt text: The worst part is when the sidewalk cracks are out of sync with your natural stride

Embrace as many constraints as you can #

So what about embracing constraints?

I decided to pick the first two words that popped out of a random word generator, and see if I could make something useful from it.

I think I’m off to a strong start:

On to Wikipedia, to find something useful. 

Searching “rodent actor” didn’t turn up anything good.

The “Rodent” wikipedia page came up blank when I ctrl+F’d for “movie”.

So, I turned back to Google, and found this gem: Top 10 films featuring rats

Interestingly, the #2 listing is Ratatouille, which I both watched and ate in the last few weeks. It’s delicious, and an enjoyable movie. Turns out Patton Oswalt is the voice behind Remy, the movie’s protagonist rat.

He was also in Blade:Trinity and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

And boom. There’s something to write about off of two random words.

PS Why is embracing constraints on my mind? I’m trying to get better at doing just a few things, not all the things.