|This is a Weekly Coffee Share Essay.
I’m part of a small group of bloggers who stay in touch and chat about blogging, writing, or just about anything else that might be of interest.
Here’s mine for the week ending March 28, 2020.
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Good morning. I woke up in what could be called a nerd loop. Don’t worry. It’s not contagious–it’s just nerdy and I think an interesting thread of thought.
There are 2 parts to my essay below. The first part will sound pretty nerdy. Please–bear with it to get to my second part – an easy to read example story to illustrate my point.
This morning I was reminded that I want to write “significant” essays, not just “entertaining” ones. Note, I have nothing against pure entertaining stories. I actually love them, but I also want to be able to write more thoughtful, even analytical pieces that are readable, instructive, and worth reading.
I also confess that this is not a new vein of thought for me. I have memories from Jr. High School of trying to disciple my thoughts to learn how to process important things, hard to think about things–things that somehow mattered.
My desire to write also goes back to those days, but my efforts were sparse at best. I still have a small pile of papers with some of my earliest attempts, but to minimize my own embarrassment, we’ll just leave that topic alone.
So I have spent some time exploring this thought process. Today I was inspired to capture some of this concept with actual words; words that I could both share (and fix later as I learn more). This all said, here we go. I hope this appeals to the side of your own mind that likes to contemplate things.
Because I believe that spending time thinking through significant things will help me write things that are more significant and therefor compelling, I call this line of thought:
In Pursuit of Significant Thought and Writing
If I were to try and teach a class about this topic, I would want to start with trying to lay down a means of recognizing what constitutes “Significant Thought”. How would we recognize it? My list of factors would include:
- It must be potentially “life changing” versus just entertaining.
- It must be involve developing or discovering “principals” rather than following them
- It should potentially have multi-generational “value” rather than just temporary.
- It should enable us to “recognize and anticipate human dynamics” rather than leaving us only reacting to them.
There easily may be more but to keep moving, this path of thought produced the following taxonomy for levels of Significant Thoughts, In my experience, it also reflected my own maturity as I grew up and better understood things after thinking about them year after year. Here’s how I grew up with my own Significant Thoughts.
- Crafting a Simple Statement to describe a possible Principal, i.e. a simple statement of a possible principal, e.g. we should obey our parents, leaders or law enforcement officials.
- Putting Context around the simple statement, e.g. we should obey our parents absolutely when we’re very young, most of the time while living under their roof and whenever it makes sense when we’re adults.
- Overlay Morality to the context, e.g. we should obey our parents absolutely when we’re very young, most of the time while living under their roof and whenever it makes sense when we’re adults but never if they tell us to lie, steal, cheat, break a law, or injure someone.
- Recognize that I’m a flawed (but sincere observer) which will result in flawed analysis and principals. Expect to clarify, correct, adjust as gaps or mistakes are found. I’m also a flawed practitioner and I should expect both my understanding of a truth and my ability to act within a truth will sometimes leave me looking like a hypocrite. My response should not be to change a truth but to buck up and be stronger about acting in concert with a truth.
Over time, I’ve found that the news, talking with people about their lives or almost any interaction with the real world reveals up all kinds of opportunities to add to or dig deeper into my principals instead of just reacting when a situation arrives.
– – – = = = ( o ) = = = – – –
For example, many years ago a extended family member had some severe mental and emotional issues. Decisions made, theft from other family members, substance abuse and such resulted in jail time and terrible health problems. It was pretty bad for a while.
Then, we moved closer to our family and our turn came around to host the family Christmas get-together. I was suddenly troubled.
I had worked hard to provide a nice, safe home for our kids. We had carefully saved and collected some nice furnishings and I realized that I did not want to add our home or my family to the list of victims this person had left in their wake.
But, family is family–right?
No, I thought long and hard about the situation and decided I had to send the message through that side of the family that this person was not invited to our home and I expected my wishes to be respected.
I might just as well have kicked a hornets nest for the response I got. Pretty much everyone was angry with me and my “deliberately hurtful and unloving actions”. Our extended family just did not pick fights like this and I was acting out of character even for me. My own father, who never said things like this, told me how disappointed he was with my action and stubbornness. This was very hard and he deserved the authority of being able to say things like that so I thought it all through again, making sure that my own case made sense to me–and it did. I stuck by my decision. It was my home and my family that I was refusing to put at risk. The facts and history this person owned were profound and screamed “Don’t do it!”. I’m a parent and my family did not need a known threat sitting at a dinner table with them, but what a mess!
On that second pass of thinking it through, I realized that these kind actions are a natural consequence of being a criminal. Who wants a robber and substance abuse criminal in their home with their children? And just like that, my principal grew to include a point that I may actually be helping this person by adding to the burden of life choices .
Well, it took a few years, but this person soon began to work very hard at changing their life. and became very successful as an employee and even as a parent. The storm around me blew itself out and life went back to normal.
The story is real. It happened and I hated it, but it seemed to have turned out better than I expected. I remain convinced that my family was better off for not having been exposed this distant relative at their worst time of life.
I posit that my decision to think stuff like this through, prevented me from just reacting–which might have led me to a different decision and I would have gone into that Christmas dinner hoping that my family and home would be safe from the known risk sitting there with us.
Now I ask you – was my story compelling? Would you have made the same call? How would you have reacted if your family rose up against you for making such a decision?
I think my example story is pretty compelling. I hope I told it well, respectfully and that you went through an interesting thought process with me.
I always appreciate your time reading my posts and will be around soon to check yours out–if you posted one. Thanks for stopping by. Your feedback and reactions are always well-beyond welcome.