Friday, July 31, 2015

This is the Beginning

In the old days writers frequently kept notebooks where they jotted ideas, observations and snippets of conversations. These days much of this miscellany is stored in folders on our laptops, backup drives and in other virtual spaces.

As a columnist I often go through many false starts before I hit on a theme that I can carry all the way through. Many of these false starts are stored as seed for future articles.

This morning I found this bit of patter which found its initial impetus in a poem by Billy Collins titled Aristotle.

This is the Beginning

This is the beginning. Almost anything can happen. Except we’re writing for a ____ magazine, so it constrains our possibilities somewhat.

Being somewhat responsible the beginning has a purpose beyond merely hooking the reader. It is useful for telegraphing what’s to come, something akin to a billboard. It’s like an introduction at a party. You really don’t entirely know where it will lead, but you’re intrigued. You still want to go with it. And if it is a proper beginning it will not chew up too much of the real estate on this page because all the important parts need breathing room as they flow out from this, the beginning.

So, where are we going from here? That really is a question for so many aspects of life. When we try to see the future it’s a real problem because our only clues are the ones in our past. There’s a wall between today and tomorrow, and we don’t have a periscope to see over or around it.

The only thing we see with clarity is behind us. Even though we’re fond of saying “hindsight is 20/20” the reality is not really that way. All too often we filter events through a mental grid and misinterpret their significance. So it is that we have to become detectives and learn to recognize which clues are important, and when we connect the right dots a shape will begin to form.

* * * *

This is the end.

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