Message to Myself

“I’m sending out a message to myself
So that when I hear it on the radio
I will know that I am fine
I will know that I am fine
I will know that I am loved”
–M. Etheridge

Know Your Audience: Having formally taught for nearly four decades now, including the all-important stress on communication for my graduate students (and all students), I am extremely familiar with the apothegm to first know your audience. I am a firm believer that it is most important to know your audience so that your communication, spoken, written, or visual, is received with maximal efficiency. Although, sometimes a bit of a mismatch is an appropriate challenge for the audience. I have not changed my philosophy on that point and will continue to follow that axiom when efficient communication is the primary goal. However, sometimes the goal is not simply to communicate a point of opinion or a set of scientific facts. Sometimes it is to baffle the receiver (reader here) in order to provoke a deeper thought process and allow them to discover the main point for themselves. Such self-discoveries are far more sticky and impactful than rote absorption of “facts”.

Sometimes There Isn’t One:  The act of writing is a cathartic process that need not have readers. Sometimes it is simply a message to yourself to help you know that you are fine. That is what this blog is all about. If anyone reads it and learns something, or simply thinks about something in a new way, that will be wonderful. If nobody ever reads a word of it, it will still be wonderful because I will have exercised my writing muscles and helped to keep my physical and mental health. It is no different from a workout in the gym. Our bodies were not made for exercise, they were made for living. Exercise makes that possible. Exercising my writing muscles makes it possible for me to continue to work on other projects that might have a specific audience; be that coordinating a wine tasting or making an inspirational photograph. Just as my exercise in a gym is best without an audience, writing is sometimes best without an audience. And I’m fine with that.

Chautauqua: I made my first trip to Chautauqua in the past few weeks. I have often wondered about the place and it’s traditions for the study of philosophy, science, and religion. My first recollections of Chautauqua were as a child when I decided that Chautauqua would be the name for my Appaloosa, the Appaloosa that my parents wisely never seriously considered adding to our family. I did however, sketch many pictures of Chautauqua and ogled at his potential parents as we passed an Appaloosa farm on trips to my grandmother’s house for holidays. In college I learned of the conferences held at the Chautauqua Institute when I was assigned to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in a philosophy course. A book I have revisited and enjoyed several times in relation to my wanderings about the country and considerations of mental health and welfare. Given the interest, there is no good explanation for all the years it took me to make the trip, just a few hours drive from my home. The trip was nominally made to attend a Melissa Etheridge (awesome) and Pat Benatar (not so much) concert in Chautauqua’s historic amphitheater. Nothing intrigued me more than rock and roll viewed from a church pew! Half of the concert was fantastic, but I also used the concert as an excuse to visit the Institute to learn more about it. It is a fascinating place and a bit of a throwback to more contemplative times.  I liked it and I have become a member of the CLSC (Chautauqua Literary & Scientific Circle) for next year and will try to attend some programs there next summer. Another circle completed.

Next up; Ego and the Third-Person Passive


“Truth is what you get
When truth is what you speak”
–M. Etheridge