Unfolded Note

Some time ago I came across Unfolded Note, a project by Satya, a mother who lives in California with her husband and two young sons. Something had brought me there and I subscribed immediately. I cannot recall what it was. Every now and then as I'm going about my busy life I'll get an email on my phone with a simple unassuming subject line: Unfolded Note: #295. What's inside the email? Who is this person? Why did I subscribe?

For the past two years I've been struggling to share bits and pieces of my own life through my published writing, as had been doing for so many years prior. The struggle began when I learned that I was going to become a dad. How do I put into words all of these new thoughts, feelings, and emotions? How do I provide enough context and backstory so that my readers will know what's going on? What if I say too much, or too little? What if things are taken out of context? What am I trying to say with my writing anyway?

The Unfolded Note emails are never more than a few paragraphs, one or two hundred words at most. There's no backstory, and often very little context. When I subscribed I knew nothing about Satya and yet each time I see that subject line, Unfolded Note: #300, I'm pulled inside, curious what tidbits of her life I will hear about next, what thoughts or insights or stories she might be sharing with me in this new email.

So I'm going to try something new. One hundred and fifty words. That will be my target. I have so much inside that I want to share, so many insights, so many thoughts, so many stories. My goal from now on will be to not concern myself with sharing everything, but rather to share enough to tell a story, enough to share a thought or an idea or an observation.

There is a reservoir of wisdom within all of us that must be shared to be realized.

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  1. A bit like Twitter’s 140 characters, but in words instead. I like it, and look forward to reading your 150 words đŸ™‚

    Maybe there’s an app waiting to be built for that.

    • I had not thought of it that way, but you’re right. It is a bit like Twitter’s 140 characters. The goal will be 150 words, but the intention, as always, will be 150 words of quality. That’s quite a different matter.

      There are only so many characters that you can fit into a space of 140 characters, but the number of words you can fit into a space of 150 words–and the variability possible within such a space–leaves substantially more room for expression (or lack thereof).

  2. Raam I love the idea of the unfolded note. I struggle like you to know how much is enough and how much is too much. In fact I have struggled with this since 2007. I so relate to the difficulty of feeling the need to provide a backstory or some context. It’s hard. You shouldn’t have to give it all away. But you need to give something. But what? I love your posts incidentally. I always read them and should comment more often. But as often is the case I go away and think about what you have said… agree in my mind… and then never get back to comment. I’m sorry. But please know that we are all out here reading your words and thoughts and valuing them. Even if you become too busy to write. I’m a parent… I get it. Thank you. Jean x

    • Thank you, Jean, that means a lot to me! It’s easy to forget in this age of remoteness (ha, I just realized that the Internet actually makes everybody more remote to each other, not less) that there are people out there who are actively participating with your work, even if they don’t make themselves known. I wonder if it’s not harder to be a writer these days than it was prior to the tech revolution.

      • I believe it might be. There are so many words now. Even more than in early December 2014 when we exchanged these few! Funnily enough, I don’t feel remote, even though geographically I probably am. As for whether its harder to be a writer these days [than prior to the tech revolution] … why yes. I think so. There are so many more words now. So many more voices out there. Sometimes I feel like I’m on my own little island… speaking another language altogether! Hope all is well over on your little side of the world and every best wish to you and your family for a wonderful new year. Jean x

        • Hi Jean,

          I’m sorry for the late reply here. I feel like we’re exchanging messages through a wormhole that bridges time. Such a strange feeling!

          I think perhaps the challenges with writing and sharing today (post Internet age) are probably more related to our own mental models about how things work than any true affect of the technology itself. Perhaps we make it harder for ourselves to write and share what we create because we think about how so many people could potentially see this, and that makes us feel a greater responsibility for what we’re sharing?

          I hope that you and your family are well.

          • A wormhole that bridges time, a portal into another place, a thin place where words slip through … whichever it is … I love it that we are able to continue a conversation started in November 2014!

            On that note, I can’t tell you how happy I am to again be receiving emails from you here in Jan 2021. So glad to see you back! I hope life is treating you well and that wherever you are, you and your family are happy and healthy.

            It’s a strange world we are now in. I don’t think either you, nor I, could have predicted the state of play as we cross the threshold into 2021. The radical changes are difficult to articulate in words. I have tried over and over to stay writing ahead of the curve of events throughout 2020, but the world has been moving too fast. Warp speed seems to apply to almost everything now. It makes me feel sad that we are losing our grip on what used to be a given. So much is beyond our control. And yet within that void there must surely be an opportunity still, to reach out and touch another human somewhere, seeking like we are, something more. Thank you so much. Jean.

          • Jean, you have a wonderful way with words!

            I think within that void that you speak of lies opportunity, a space to choose how we react and how we respond through what we create.

            All is well on my end and I hope the same is true for you.