Over the next four weeks, I'm participating in the IndieThinker's creator cohort for a second time. While last time I focused on posting three times a week, which was helpful for me developing a consistent habit of hitting publish, for this iteration I'm focusing on experimenting more with my style of writing.
In light of that, you can expect a more experimental piece every Wednesday in June. If you have any thoughts about what works (or what doesn't!), I would love to hear from you. You can always reach out at my Contact page.
Yesterday she said it.
My wife informed me that my tweets were “dry.”
Though I had long suspected my work came across this way, I had never theorized about the cause, much less honestly admitted to myself that I thought it was the case.
I’m thankful she said it though, because it prompted some introspection for me.
Why is my writing of such an academic, disinterested manner? Where from within myself does my style come from? How might I be holding myself back?
As I thought about how to describe my writing, especially the work I’ve been posting here lately at Samsara Diagnostics, the word which came to me was “workman-like.”
As though one is putting in the reps, performing the exercises.
I realized that in my writing I don’t like drawing hard and fast conclusions for other people.
I will “show my work,” curiously exploring the intricacies of each path, as well as the trails which branch from it, but do so without displaying any consciousness of an over-riding demand to make anything of any particular observation. At most, I just want it to “strike” the reader. Leave an impression, whatever that may be, which perhaps stays with them, like a pebble in their shoe.
I want to lay out all the pieces of the puzzle, be that whatever I find interesting, have found helpful in the past, or am currently investigating, but I don’t want to urge too strongly about how the puzzle needs to be put together. I’m content to leave that up to the reader and their own sweet timing.
Timing. It’s all about timing.
Have you had the experience where you read a thinker, and their thought just didn’t connect, like, something about it just didn’t click for you? In these situations, I just put them down to come back to later. The time wasn’t right, I say to myself.
I don’t think this is a naked rationalization. I truly believe that ideas which might become vital to us down the road can come to us “out of season,” so to speak, and therefore hardly register at all. They have arrived too early to help us. More importantly, we don’t have the other pieces in place yet to complete the integration. Each piece will arrive and fall into place in its time.
Ultimately, I do not believe that I can change anyone’s mind, much less my own. When the time comes to change your mind, it will happen, but not for reasons which either you or I can control. The mind changes like the weather, and new ideas are a like a flood. They are born from millions of microscopic adjustments in the environment, be it a slight variation in air temperature or the smallest buckling of an unassuming embankment.
We are all on a journey, one which cannot be known beforehand by the one living it, and which is entirely unbeknownst to me as someone writing for strangers on the internet. This is probably the most woo thing I’ve said in years, but I mean it, and what I mean by it is something precise.
I don’t know your story. I can only share mine. I can only present the treasures and trinkets I’ve accumulated along the way, talk about the skirmishes I’ve encountered, the companions I’ve gained and lost, and the tools which I’ve cast off to arrive at this precise point.
I don’t know what you need, so it seems disingenuous to insist too strongly in any one direction.
The life experiences and the questions you’re asking will shape what material resonates with you, or what potential pathways hold the most promise. Certain pieces of the puzzle which previously would not have held much meaning for you can be transfigured before your eyes, appearing positively saturated with sense, dripping with a meaning you had previously never intimated.
I once had a friend describe my writing as walking along a pathway in the forest where I simply point out the flora and fauna in detail as we stroll along. This is, ironically, the flip-side of the academic and workman-like style — I am never put at stake. And in turn, neither is the reader.
This makes sense though, because I don’t ultimately think that scholarship is what transforms a person. At best, it can provide one of the necessary inputs. If someone wants to work on synthesis or integration, I think that needs to happen in relationship with other people, and it must become manifest through their form of life. I would be happy to be such a friend, guide, or counselor to you, but I cannot be that person for you simply through writing a newsletter.
I have a lot of opinions. I share more of them on Twitter than I do on here, because this place feels different to me. I don’t see this newsletter as a space to push a particular life decisions, a specific political constellation, or, despite the name, a definitive diagnosis of our samsaric existence. I have theories, and I have ideas, but what you do with them will be up to you.
I enjoy the diagnostic process itself. The continual attempting and re-attempting, the asking again, the asking slightly differently, and the dialogue which doesn’t end so much as it reveals new ways to play. I delight in the way that ideas can mutually illuminate each other, and the way that dialogue can shift the connections between concepts.
Here is the way I think I see it — by doing my thing in public, by simply modeling and experimenting with my method where others can see, I believe that I will attract the right kind of person when the time is right for them, and in the meantime, I will be here doing my thing until the time is right for the others.
What I'm after is a theory of human change, but my exploration of this problematic has produced in me only a deeper sense of my own poverty, and just how illusory my fantasies of control truly are. This open-handedness is painful, making me illegible to myself and to others. But I don't see any other way right now.