Reflecting

Among the many writing projects that I’ve considered pursuing was a series of essays based on gerunds, in English these are nouns formed by adding -ing to the end of verbs. Some examples are falling, reflecting, refracting, wishing, pondering. For example, the essay on falling might have made connections between falling in love, the idea of losing control, the power of gravity, etc. This post isn’t that essay, instead it’s about reflecting, the gerund du jour.

I’m obsessed with reflection. I’m always gaming out scenarios in my mind, imagining the results of various choices, career paths, activities. In college a friend and I identified it as the ‘observer stance.’ Somewhere in the back of my mind there’s always a part of me that feels reserved to reflect upon the world around me. As a child my grandmother told me that I had “smiling eyes.” It was because I was always on the lookout for the amusing and the absurd in the world and my own situation.

Reflection has its downside. Paralysis by analysis is a real problem. I’ve felt it myself. Sometimes I’ve acted after long thought, such as leaving my job to go back to graduate school. Other times I’ve done nothing and later wished that I’d said or done something. I rarely leave a meeting or class seminar without feeling l’esprit de l’escalier.

Writing at this blog for the last two months has been a very conscious effort in reflecting. The readbacks and reviews that I did at the end of June and July were attempts to manipulate the medium of weblogs into something more reflective and historical.

By their nature and design most weblogs are here today and gone tomorrow. Just like the fishwrap of the daily newspaper. There’s nothing wrong with that style or form. Sometimes it is fun to just sit in the river of news and let the world wash over you. Weblogs are incredibly fecund and regular reading of any one can give you an amazing sense for the interests and passions of the people who write them. I even consciously try to read a wide variety of weblogs, it’s part of my belief in eclecticism.

But now I’m trying to watch and observe my own stream of consciousness. To see if there are common threads of interest or fascination that might guide me into the future or direct me to new vistas of exploration.

I’ve been surprised by how little I’ve written about my experience in school. Part of this is privacy, there were things I wrote about offline during winter semester that I had no intention of sharing in a public forum. Mostly thoughts about other people and disappointments with classes. A lot of self-doubt that was too painful to share with an unknown audience.

I have a folder of weblogs on libraries, information science, and knowledge management that I read regularly. Every week there are stories that I find interesting for my professional development but they don’t end up on the weblog. I begin to wonder if I should include more of these items whenever I see others using weblogs to develop professional personas. There’s always a nagging doubt whether this public facade is going to gain or lose me a job sometime in the future.

But I press on. It feels better to get these random thoughts off my chest, to share them with a small world. Serendipity may one day come to my aid.