Two fantastic posts came out in the last few days that each dealt with the reasons behind why some of us do this blogging thing that we do. I’m sure that most people who have read more than a couple of entries from yours truly will be mostly confused, mystified, and bewildered as to what exactly motivates me to throw up the partially digested bits of information that I splatter on this website. (Seems kind of rude and insensitive at times…..)
Anyway, both Michael Kline and Scott Cooper had amazing posts that help clarify my own project in putting down the words that make up this narrative. Scott writes, “The real reward to blogging isn’t in sharing, grandstanding or even in the hard fun of composition. It’s in the ability (and the quiet obligation) to push first drafts out into public space on a regular basis; to get some ideas beyond the walls of the mind. Their tendency to constrain and obscure often prevents me from knowing what I actually think until after I’ve written it out and uploaded it to the hive mind.”
If that last two sentences in Scott’s quote had been about making pots it would have read: “It’s in the ability (and the quiet obligation) to push new pots out into public space on a regular basis; to get some ideas beyond the walls of the mind. Their tendency to constrain and obscure often prevents me from knowing what the pots are supposed to be like until after I’ve thrown them and put them out in the world.”
Sometimes its the act of doing something that crystallizes what the doing is all about. It takes actual thinking to make thought clear. Thinking isn’t simply the manifestation of what we already know, a verbatim transcription of some inner knowledge. Thinking is also the active construction of what we know, connecting dots, leaps of intuition, tracings of rational consequences, nurturing perspectives, and pruning confusion and contradiction. Just as making a pot is the active construction of that pot, and not just the mechanical building of the idea of that pot. Its about discovery as much as its about revealing. Maybe even more so….
And the more we do it, the better our skill at these activities and the more comfortable we are doing them. How else do we learn? (Ben Carter has a fascinating series of posts he’s doing right now on the insights of neural science in the sphere of skill building, understanding, and memory. A must read!) I usually consider the stages of our understanding as learning how to learn, learning how to think, learning how to think for yourself, and learning what to think. And it seems that in some ways these are mutually supportive and mutually encouraging.
But the key is always exercise, and the exercise is most useful in cross training. Learning what to think without thinking for yourself is like a person whose only physical activity was doing a leg lift with their left leg. Try to walk and you only go around in a circle! Thinking for yourself without learning what to think is like training for a marathon in a closet, with no chance to stretch your legs, no hills, and no weather.
And so, expressing ourselves in as many ways as possible and assuming as many perspectives as we are able to gives us a much greater lens to see things through. Its a challenge and a test. It gives us a greater platform from which to do things, more flexibility. The practice is exercise for our creative souls. It builds strength, confidence, and it builds courage. But it also builds the intelligence of better knowing what we are doing.
In the words of Michael Kline, “This is the critical role of my blog. It is a tool to pry open our eyes and our perceptions.”