Things that don’t fit into any other category.
Well, I’ve world watching for a while, sometimes it’s better to just drift and watch. I’ve been thinking this site over, it seems to me that rather than a blog I might try to use it as a commonplace book.
That conviction stems from the reading I’ve been doing and the fact that after what I’ve watched over the last couple of years, I’m becoming convinced that the last place I need to be is on a soapbox. I’m purposefully keeping away from Social Media and have continued with my old style notes and diary. What I’m about to say is heretical for someone who works in IT, but this seems to work better for me than all the cloud systems out there. There’s something about simple paper and a fountain pen, it’s more immediate.
So, what is a commonplace book? It’s somewhere that someone can record their thoughts and musings, any quotes they wish to preserve and comment on. In my case I always seemed to do best when I asked questions. I’m intending to return to my traditional approach and hopefully, I can start moving forward again.
Where to begin? Let’s try this.. The last time I restarted this blog, I wiped everything that came before and sallied forth with a clean slate. At the time, it made sense, but it did rather disrespect the journey that I’d been through up until that point. This time, it’s not a restart, but a refocus and a change of course to an older direction. I’m also going to aim for a more conversational style as I feel that suits me better.
I had a conversation with a dear friend a week or two ago, in which she opined that I’d been happier when I wasn’t trying to be somebody I’m not. I was a little mystified as to what she meant and it turns out that she’d been trying to hint to me for sometime that the mindset of Philosophical Taoism suited me much better than that of Indian Buddhism. I took some time to reflect on this, and in hindsight I can see what she means. So yes, I’m publicly saying Anne was right. Which I’m sure she’ll love and will remind me about in jest. But that doesn’t mean that the time spent was wasted, good heavens no, not one bit. Using the metaphor of a watercourse (hence the name of this blog, chosen many years and various platforms ago), in order to float down to the ocean you have to travel the whole watercourse, not just bits of it. This includes meanderings, rapids and also places where the river forks briefly and you go one way and rejoin it downstream. That’s how this feels, “you had to go through there, so now you could be here”. Over time, I’ve begun to learn how to be patient with such things. Getting upset doesn’t help, just enjoy the scenery and find the lessons because you can be sure they’re there!
So, what is the new direction? Well, amongst other things there’ll be Taoism, Yoga, Free Software (and Open Source) and Steampunk. I am also working on some Steampunk fiction, which may find it’s way onto this blog. Writing frequency will be when I have something to say, every time I’ve tried to stick to a schedule it’s not gone too well. So, the schedule is going over the side and into the water.
A week or two ago I had the opportunity to travel to Yorkshire. I wasn’t there long, and the purpose and hurried nature of the trip made me think back to the novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It also evoked a feeling that’s been creeping over me for quite some time, which is that we miss much of what the world has to offer by being so wrapped up in rushing around distracted.
This trip was definitely of the rushing and focussed variety and as I drove I wished that I could pull over and enjoy the Yorkshire scenery, take time to head off onto a side road and get creatively lost. Of course, I was unable to do any of these things, and I didn’t. But it reminded me of Pirsig as he mentions the fact that the real scenery is along the side roads, but also that the road less travelled is often quicker and more enjoyable due to it being less crowded. This also makes me think of social networking. I cancelled my Twitter account at the start of the year, for precisely these sort of reasons; in addition to Twitter’s increasingly aggressive use of tracking.
I am noticing much more that our world is awash in digital noise, we rush around getting to destinations, chasing distractions and sharing all of this on social networking while staring fixatedly into our mobiles and tablets. I remember a car journey last year, where I was trying to strike up a conversation with my passenger only to find that she was distracted by Twitter and Facebook, the smile on her face chilled me and made me think of a trance like state.
The culmination of all this now is a sense of wondering where all this will end. Will we continue to build a world where we rush headlong to our destinations, missing the scenery; distracted on the way and distracted when we’re there? What’s the value of a world like that? I sincerely question whether that’s a world worth building or worthy of support.