I try to follow a general rule of reading a lot more than I write, and listening a lot more than I speak. With everything I do, it’s tempting to fall into the practice of write-only output in work and every-day life. The more I write, the more a momentum builds up. Bottom line is it’s pretty damn easy to eject your brain stew into the ether. Once the flood gates open, the hard process of reading, re-reading, struggling to understand becomes that much less appealing.
I guess if my first thought on the subject is a generic positive one, I’ll voice it naturally and let it fade along with comments about the weather and the latest political scandal in the news. But if I’m interesting in presenting a counter-intuitive idea or one that contradicts a popular view, the hard work of quietly drudging through the articles and books on the subject has to get done.
On the other hand, I’m also fearful of falling into the bin where the introverts hide from the fluorescent light of the world. Too much learning and too much listening can be just as counter-productive as the other extreme. That’s really the main reason I keep this blog, so that I open the valve to my brain at least for a few minutes a day. The goal is to practice mapping the thing that’s in my brain to the thing that’s on the page. The more I do it, the more I realize how much I suck at it. It’s not easy, and every attempt humbles me. It’s like trying to pick up a girl when I’m intoxicated. Whatever comes out of my mouth will not be Shakespeare. At best, I can smile, and shoot for a mumbling Hemingway or Hunter S Thompson.
I’ve always found it unfortunate that some of the most interesting and brilliant people I know do no have any interest in speaking to the world. No facebook, no blog, and barely more than a phone and a work email. They love learning, but are uncomfortable with exposing their opinions and views to the outside world.
Sometimes the quietest people at the party are the ones I want to talk to. And by “party” I mean seven eleven, and by “quietest people” I mean the introspective angry hobo glaring spitefully at the passing cops.