Lately I’ve been writing, so I’ve been away from my blog. But today I read an old post by the recently deceased “information should be free” internet crusader, Aaron Swartz. It’s the best reason to blog that I have come across.
Though I’m not the type to post unedited, I agree with Aaron. Writing is part of my thought process. I’m now in the habit of writing when I’ve had a moment of clarity. Between post-it notes, two journals, a computer, and the occasional envelope, I try to capture the moments that seem most important.
I’ve heard that if the human mind had to process all available stimuli, we would go insane. We’re programmed to distill the most important information in any given situation. Malcolm Gladwell describes this with his book, Blink.
I just finished Blink and have to admit that I had to work to figure out his thesis. I think it was a two-parter:
1. humans make snap judgments all the time, which are often wrong
2. experts who make snap judgments based on their years of expertise are usually right, though because this knowing operates beyond conscious awareness, it can be difficult to articulate the reasons that they “just know.” (Sorry, the second part is rather lengthy).
For me the take-away from Blink is that we can work to cultivate thoughtfulness in the face of uncertainty and trust our instincts when we’re confronted with a topic or decision we’re greatly familiar with. Oh, and we should avoid stereotyping people or making up our minds prematurely – the old adage, “don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Regarding the in-between areas, of living in world that’s often confusing, sad, and unpredictable, I like to write as a way of sense-making. Or at least, acceptance-feeling.
Gladwell didn’t say anything about writing as a way to find peace in a troubled world. But then again, writing is what he does for a living. I bet he’d approve.