Writing to Learn

When I look at the list of months in my blog archive, it strikes me just how little I’ve written over the past 2 years and a bit, especially compared to my time in Cambodia and on the farm in 2008 and 9. I suppose writing varies inversely to the amount of stuff filling my days.

I’ve noticed, though, that I need write (and talk) to learn. Life over the past couple of years has been so so full of experiences, people, places. I’ve been on the move, constantly changing to the point where it’s hard to describe to people (or sometimes even know myself) who it is that I am and what exactly it is that I do.

Thankfully, I have incredible friends in my life who humor me and listen and help me untangle the sometimes frenetic thinking and doing into something that’s more comprehensible and sometimes even beautiful. They make sure I don’t take myself too seriously (it’s a flaw!) and that I pay attention to the things (usually people) that matter the most.

Even so, with all that reflection in real time, sometimes I feel like I could retreat somewhere and simmer in the sum of life til now… like I could keep myself occupied and become wiser just by being quieter. I’m hoping a 10-day silent retreat in May gives me a little piece of this, and I’m planning something longer — maybe three months — sometime in the next four or five years. A time for silence and ripening.

In the meantime, for the summer, I’m going to hold myself to a stricter schedule of writing. I’ve been trying to maintain a radical openness since coming to Detroit, but recently I’ve been thinking I need to focus in more and process things I’ve heard and overheard, passing thoughts, feelings, into something more coherent (not static or final, but connected… like a mind map, a network of connections).

I guess this is a reminder that this particular blog space isn’t a place where I intend to preach, influence or educate, but to have a conversation with myself and people who care about me who happen to be far away and others who resonate with the questions I’m asking about food and equity and relationships and change in the world.

Making space to actually write things down won’t always be easy, but I think it’s worth it if I can learn something new.

Some things I’d like to take on…

  • Social justice and entrepreneurship — tensions between the individual and the collective. Does the fact that a tension is unresolvable mean that the mechanism is flawed, or perhaps even more important?
  • Brokering roles & the role of social structure in unlocking creativity
  • Arne Naess and the ecological self — is this possible? desirable? true altruism?
  • Does creativity require limiting someone else’s capacity to create?
  • How do we remind ourselves that every story is incomplete? Is there a prayer? A song?
  • Emergence  versus scale?
  • Does financial sustainability in a “social enterprise” have to be based on markets as they exist today? (Must we achieve “profits”? What about grants? Unpacking the financials of that biodynamic farm on Lopez Island)

And some more mundane things about day-to-day life and cooking and some creative projects that I’m working on.

I’m getting more excited as I write about it. That’s a good sign :)

1 comment

1 Chamath Perera { 04.20.12 at 11:32 am }

I am really interested in the first, the second and the last of your themes. Look forward to reading all of them though. On mundane matters: simple recipes would be nice :) .

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