Wednesday, September 11, 2013
On Writing This Blog
The question keeps coming back: Why do I write this blog? Those who don't see the point wonder where I find the time. Those who appreciate what I do tells me to do it 'more professionally'. I have so far remained true to my original purpose of writing - to create a digital equivalent of a 'commonplace book' - to maintain a scrapbook of ideas and record my wonder.
However, I agree that my occasional attempts of weighty posting - trying to write academic essays, for example - make things go off kilter. While these create a great timeline for me, something that reflects my state of thought at the time, that is no use to anyone reading the blog. While this blog indeed serves many purposes, being a record of my life is the most private of those and it is indeed unfair to impose the same on those who generously give me their time in reading and commenting on this blog.
In summary, then, I acknowledge that this blog, anything public for that matter, isn't mine any longer: Its public existence essentially makes it social. While I can, and do, control who gets to read this by highlighting some posts (and not others) on my profile on Linkedin, Facebook and other social media, I am not, and don't intend to be, in control of those who serendipitously stumble upon it, and those who choose to stay, signing up for email updates or follow this blog. Initially, these were friends I knew: Over the last eight years, this has come to include many people that I never met, but come to consider as friends. At sobering moments such as now, I recognise that this blog is no longer just mine.
Do I then start taking myself more seriously and try make this blog professional? I have wrestled with the question any times before and always decided to stay true to its haphazard, personal nature. While I am considering a career as a writer, I am not sure I want to turn this blog, a labour of love, into a professional exercise. That would be, in my mind, inauthentic. I have endeavoured so long to keep this advert-free, stayed out of various offers to commercial writing, and link exchanges (except straying a few times initially), because I wanted this place for being myself. I have come to consider even the unedited style, with the occasional grammatical errors, the mix of US-UK spellings, the brooding and complex sentences that I am not proud of, all part of that authenticity. In other words, in a strange reversal, this blog makes me who I am.
Personally, I am at a critical juncture in my life. I have lived the start-up life for about a year, a life of extreme sacrifices and swings of hope and despair, with the endless cycles of self-doubt and self-confidence. With time, though, such a life in precipice become habitual, bearable, almost commonplace. But this has also clarified many things that needed clarification in my mind - particularly, what I love, and what I should be doing in my life. Indeed, I don't have all the answers - don't know how I get to do what I would love to do, for example - nor such knowledge comes in neat packages giving me a career path. But, getting a sense of what's worthwhile is important, and it is surprisingly difficult when life follows a pre-set pattern and the trivial overwhelm the not-so-urgent.
So, I possibly know three things: That I want to work in Education and the goal of my life will be to set up an institution, perhaps a Liberal Arts College, which will bring together the possibilities of creative thinking, disciplinary excellence and the power of technology-led innovation; that I would want to make my life, and this institution, global, steeped in values of openness, exchange and cooperation; and that I want to become a campaigner for this idea of education, shifting away from the values of 'money economy' and getting ready for the 'gift economy'.
Not all of this is immediate: My current project is global, but this is neither about setting up liberal arts education nor about 'gift economy'. I am a suburban Londoner at this time, with boring regularity of routine and expectation. The life I seek to live is not about globe-trotting, which means peering out to different lands from five star hotel lounges, but rather full of travels on dusty roads, knowing other languages and seeking truth outside the proclamations of world leaders and English language media. I don't have a roadmap from here to there, but just a sense of direction; no skills, except perhaps my love of writing; and nothing in my past to be able to do this, except the track record of defying the gravity of my past all the time.
As I hit the road, then, metaphorically, it is time to reinvent my writing, though not necessarily my blog. I am starting to write different things, seeking out commissions and building a portfolio, as any aspiring writer will do. I am trying to change my style, making it more user-friendly by abandoning philosophical pretensions. I am considering taking up studies again, one final time, to complete a Research Degree, once the U-Aspire project has truly commenced. Amid all this, I have decided to preserve this blog as it is: Personal, a labour of love, full of errors but straight from the heart. Expect less of scholarly pretensions then, and more of my personal story: I didn't forget that this is why I started writing the blog.
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How To Live
"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Theodore Roosevelt
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T S Eliot
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