The unexamined life is not worth living. – Socrates
As I resurrected this blog, I was forced to look back through much of what I’ve written over the past nine years. A few things hit me:
- Writing well is hard work
- I really used to work at it, and in some cases, it shows
- The process of writing makes me more thoughtful about myself, my experiences with friends and family, and the world
It’s the last point that struck me the most, especially after I had a conversation with my friend Tony about it. He told me his blog is a way of recording his thoughts, and in many ways, of generating them. The same is true for me, I realized. It’s one thing to tell someone you thought a movie was pretty good; it’s another thing entirely to be able to sit down and write something about it that’s actually worth reading. The writing process requires concentration and focus, honing ideas to the point where they can be articulated.
Without the writing process, most “ideas” are really just partially formed impressions, misshapen lumps of clay that hint at something deeper. Writing provides shape and form and structure; it clarifies and enlightens both the writer and the reader. I think the anticipation of writing can also encourage looking at the world with more open eyes. If I’m thinking in the back of my head that I want to write about my experiences, I’m suddenly more present in them.
As I looked through those old entries, I realized just how much introspection and curiosity I had lost when I stopped writing over a year ago. I realized that, on some level, I’d really stopped thinking about my own life experiences in a meaningful way. My professional blog kick-started thinking about my working life, but my personal life remained largely unexamined. It was just a sea of impressions without any land in sight.
Now that this blog has risen from the ashes, I feel like I’ve shined light into the dusty attic of my brain, brushed away the cobwebs, and started the gears turning again. They’re a little rusty, and it will probably take another year of writing before they run smoothly, but it’s all about the journey, right?
I’m not exactly sure in what direction I’m heading right now, or where I’ll wind up, but at least I know I’m leaving the unexamined life behind.