Looking for New Material, 2010
I started this blog a little over a year and a half ago. I had several ideas in mind for it, some of which I’ve since discarded. At first, it was a challenge, to see if I could do something every weekday. Then it became a challenge to see if I could make it to one hundred posts. That seemed ambitious at the time, but had something to do with one of the original goals.
Now I notice that I’m writing the 411th post to What I Saw. I don’t know exactly what I had in mind at the start. But I sure never would have envisioned that I’d make it to four hundred and eleven.
I write a lot for work. But it never occurred to me that I might have the quarter of a million or so words of rambling prose and fiction I’ve offered up here thus far.
I was listening the other day to an interview with composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim in which he described the joy of creation. The joy he had in mind, though, was not the result—the song or tune, in his case—but rather in the time during which he was creating them. As an example, Sondheim described sitting down one night after dinner to see if he could create a board game for a friend.
“I started about 9:00 p.m. with a pencil and paper and the next thing I knew the sun was coming up outside. Certainly I must have stopped sometime during those hours to get a snack or go to the bathroom. But I didn’t remember anything of it.”
Most days that’s how it is with me and this blog. The therapeutic aspect of it—and that’s how I look at it, the part that seems to be the payoff for me—occurs during the generative phase, the part that challenges me to do something that is hopefully interesting enough to be worth sharing.
The part that comes after that is the gravy. That’s where you come in.
I’d probably keep doing this even if there were no audience. It’s gotten to be a habit that's good for me. But there’s no denying that I enjoy your company when you take a moment to stop by. I’m always grateful for your comments.
The current (1/17/11) issue of The New Yorker magazine includes a fascinating piece by David Brooks about how “the new sciences of human nature can help make sense of a life.” As a researcher, I’m always trying to learn more about why we do what we do and how we become who we are.
There are a lot of interesting ideas to think about in Brooks’ essay. But one of the thoughts that particularly resonated with me was this, mentioned in the context of a discussion of what makes people happy:
“Research over the past thirty years makes it clear that what the inner mind really wants is connection.”
I didn’t think I was doing this blog for the connections. But like a lot of people, what I don’t know about myself is probably a lot more than what I do.
Thanks for coming along for the ride.