I ponied up the money for a mechanical keyboard.
I get it. People buy in, hook, line, and sinker to this craze the way marketing used to tell kids shoes would make you run faster and jump higher.
But it’s genuinely pleasant.
Does having a nice keyboard make me a better writer? Not in and of itself.
But does having a nice keyboard make me feel like my time spent writing is more enjoyable, encouraging me to favor this activity over other ways to spend my time? You bet!
The only thing that helps a person work on their craft is time and deliberate practice. You could argue any tool that helps create those conditions has some degree of positive impact.
But there’s also the nostalgia.
It reminds me of that feeling of the first time I learned how to type, working on a Commodore 64 in my parents’ living room. The chunkiness of the keys. The orange glow of the text when I fired up the word processor to do a research paper on Mars. The satisfying click as I made things happen on screen while following along with one of the library books that said they would teach me how to program in BASIC (Ron Howard Voice: “They did not.”)
It’s not that I wish that the computer I was using had the same limited capabilities as that old machine. What I wanted from purchasing a mechanical keyboard was comfort and joy.
There’s a strong sensory connection between the tactile experience of the keyboard and the sensation of enthusiastically discovering something new. An attempt to trigger those beginner’s mind feelings, even after years and years of using a computer.
Because there’s still so much to learn.
But even without any guarantee of that, I can say for certain that sitting down to type feels more joyful. It’s no longer just the pleasure of actually taking time to write something down and work out my ideas. There’s a rhythm to the keys that keeps me motivated just as much as any well-crafted writing playlist.
It’s a healthy reminder that we’re not just content-creation algorithms, trying to spit out data for dopamine rewards. There should be joy in the process. An awareness and appreciation for not just our ideas, but the tools we use to make them tangible.
Little touches can make a world of difference, like the right coffee mug.
My favorite breakfast place in the entire United States is the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown, MA. If you’re familiar with the love Leslie Knope has for J.J.’s Diner, you have a general idea of how much I rave about this place.
On my family’s most recent trip out to the east coast, I made sure that I took home a mug from Deluxe Town, because it is the perfect mug.
This isn’t just nostalgia for the countless brunches over sour cream waffles or their perfectly tender and juicy in-house corned beef hash.
There’s a satisfying weight to the mug. It doesn’t make coffee taste better, but it makes the act of lifting the mug up to my lips feel substantial. You pay attention to the feeling in your hand and your arm as you raise it up.
You can’t ignore this mug. It’s not a paper cup. It’s not a cheap ceramic nothing. You are aware that you are drinking a good cup of coffee (so long as you put some good coffee in it).
If I appreciate my tools, the objects I surround myself with, they help me to remain present in time and space with them.
It’s not about the price tag. This isn’t a call for unchecked consumption, or for an endless deep dive into the world of The Best X You Can Buy listicles.
It’s a call to look for those objects and moments you interact with that matter. To consider how best to appreciate the tools of your trade.
What do you touch every day? Do you pay attention to it? Does it matter? Should it matter more?
When you are asked to give more and more of your mental energy and presence to things happening away from where you are, what things help anchor you? What objects can you use to keep yourself from drifting too far away, or getting lost down rabbit holes?
I am drinking this coffee. I am typing these words. I am here.