Saturday, December 10, 2011

What Other People Know


This morning I'm thinking about my search for what's next in life. I've been working it out inside my head for something like ten years, but this year have tried to elevate that game by publishing my thinking, reading what others have to say, and tentatively seeking outside counsel. It's that last bit that I most struggle with.

I've long felt that I'm supposed to just know what to do. It's the myth of self-reliance. Sure, self-reliance is a good thing but not when it is at the expense of also depending on others. Once again, it's a matter of balance, one of my favorite themes here. I've been out of balance in this regard, believing that I had to come up with the answers all on my own.

Part of my problem has been that I thought it was a sign of weakness to not know what to do. And I've been taught not to show that kind of weakness. I thought that I was in a very small minority of people who weren't satisfied with the shape their lives had taken and were looking to change. It turns out that it's just the other way around. I know very few people who are satisfied and even they are looking for what's next. That, it turns out, is the normal way of living.

Figuring that out helped me feel comfortable, but I still didn't want to talk with other people about it. I had no idea how to approach them and my first few tries were halting and ineffective. I simply didn't have the words for it. Only in the last month have I begun to put it together and even now I have to think hard to help others understand what it is I'm asking. The progress is slow, but I'm seeing already the wealth of expertise that I have within the reach of my circle of friends. I see that this is where I can continue to begin.

All of this has me thinking about what other people know and how much I have to learn from them. It gave me pause this morning, thinking of it, because this blog has mostly been me writing the things I know. "Who am I," I wondered, "to be spouting off about things when I probably don't know all that much." I can't talk about professional photography the way that Chris can, can't talk about writing novels like Toby would, don't understand the ins and outs of compassionate thinking the way that Stephanie does, can't bake bread like Faith, and I would be hopeless in the engineering world that Scott navigates so easily. I looked in the mirror as I thought this, toothpaste running slowly down my chin, and had a moment of resignation.

Then I got over it and had two thoughts that picked me right up.

One, Walt Whitman would tell me that there is no one in the world better qualified to talk about things than me. And if Walt gives me permission, then things are okay. Seriously, why shouldn't I talk about things that I know and keep trying to learn? There's no good reason not to. If it bugs anyone, they'll skip that entry or stop reading altogether and find what they need elsewhere. Meanwhile, writing all this is useful to me. So, I've got a right to do it. But you already knew that. I'm the one who needed convincing.

And speaking of you, my second thought, was that I should ask you to write something that I can post here. What do you know that you want to tell the world? What truth have you discovered through your passions? What do you have in you that should be let out? I want to know. It's part of my plan to learn from other people. It's part of my trying to learn how to ask people for things.

So, think about what you know. Think hard. Start writing. Begin with the thing you know and keep going to talk about what it has taught you about yourself. Are you really good at restoring old cars? What does that say about you and say to me? Maybe you know how to keep a house clean and uncluttered. I desperately need some help with that. If you write it, I'll put it up hereon the blog. If there is a sudden influx of 500 articles, I'll have to work out some sort of system. That would be a good problem to have.

So what do you say? Are you willing? If so, leave a comment here or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook. And write on.