put your hands in your pockets, looked away and smiled

I get a lot of odd looks when I mention the domain name andsmiled.com, so I thought I would explain.

It’s a reference to quite possibly my favourite hour of TV ever, the season 2 finale of The West Wing titled “Two Cathedrals”. In it, a character notes the mannerisms of a young Jed Bartlett when he’s made particular decisions. “Put your hands in your pockets, looked away, … and smiled”. In the climax, Bartlett takes an important question at a press conference, then puts his hands in his pockets, looks away and smiles, cut to black.

It occurred to me during one of my frequent rewatches, that the final moment, the “and smiled”, would be very satisfying, to have made a decision, to know it’s correct, that the back and forth was over. Not unlike that the moment in design (or any creative process) when you can finally see it all coming together after you’ve made that final key decision.

When I’m struggling in a creative process, often it can help to know that an “and smiled” moment could be just round the corner.