Friday, July 20, 2007

Looking for ideas

A few days ago, I wrote a post on looking for beauty, in which I talked about how practicing photography has helped me notice the beauty in my everyday world. As I was writing that post, I realized that writing has had a similar effect on my ability to notice ideas. Because I'm always on the lookout for something interesting to blog about, I notice more interesting stuff--a poem on a bathroom wall, the way people interact with a monument, or even a funny headline. Now that I write regularly, I think more about the various bits and bytes that flow through my consciousness, considering what they might mean, how they might fit together, and how I can write something about them that won't sound totally stupid. I probably fail that last part of the test regularly.

Socrates once said that an unexamined life is not worth living. Someone else said that ignorance is bliss. There's truth in both of those statements, but both are extremes and oversimplifications. (Why I think that is so may be fodder for a future blog post; for now I'll return to my original point.) I could think so much about everything in my life that I don't make time to actually live--and get a headache to boot. Or I could let the waves of life wash over me, oblivious to patterns and meaning, drifting along aimlessly and wondering why things happen to me. I'm a big fan of a balanced life, a middle way, so I think I'll find a third way: living life as fully as possible, wringing every last drop of joy and sensation out of my existence, but also making time to consider what it all might mean--or even just noticing the clever turn of phrase, the funny headline, the intelligent insight, any of which I can rip off... er, I mean, blog about.

So what's my point? If you want to notice more about your life, take up a hobby that requires you to notice stuff. To the man whose only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To the photographer, everything looks like a potential picture. And to the blogger, everything looks like a potential topic for a post.

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