“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”
— Thucydides

“A civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.”
— Jean-François Revel

An Acknowledgement, as I get underway

Saturday, August 27, 2005

OK. Today, I begin.

But first, a tip of the hat is in order. (I'm not actually given to wearing hats very often, but let's just set that minor detail aside for the moment and go with the metaphor, shall we?)

One of the blogs I've been frequently reading and enjoying since first encountering it last Spring is written by a trained therapist living in New England. Blogging anonymously under the pseudonym "neo-neocon", her goal has in part been to explore the process of her own political change in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, in an ongoing series titled "A Mind is a Difficult Thing to Change". Reading her insights and perspective, and occasionally participating in the discussions in the comments sections following her posts, has been a very helpful kind of therapy for me, as someone going through a very similar experience earlier in life and on the other side of the continent.

Neo's thoughtful work has helped motivate me to begin recounting my own story and exploring my own process of change and of coming to better understand myself. I've been grateful for the thought and effort she puts into her writing, which consistently comes across as being motivated by a sincere desire to better understand things, and I hope to follow her admirably level-headed example in that regard. (Hers is certainly a blog to which I'd refer any Democrat with a sincere interest in understanding what the heck happened to his or her wayward former compatriots.)

As a practical means of keeping momentum on the writing end (with the added benefit of hopefully not boring my readers too terribly) I expect to try to stick to the essentials and get through this bit of storytelling fairly quickly. There is plenty of stuff in the recent past and present that I want to blog about, and I hope to start making more time for that soon. So if I can manage it, I'm going to do my level best to suppress any perfectionistic tendencies that might become an undue hindrance, and try to treat this more like writing a series of e-mail messages -- which, for whatever reason, don't seem to take as long to compose. Better to post something rather than to wait indefinitely for the right turn of phrase to come to mind, or to be sure that every last detail is in place.

The above said, I do feel the need to start this blog by establishing some basic context: Who am I, and what's motivated me to begin this project? In my most recent post, I wrote:

Discovering that I am more different from those around me than I had realized, in my way of seeing and thinking, has prompted me to try to understand the essential reasons for and origins of those differences. Is there just a different set of axioms wired into my way of perceiving, analyzing, and responding to the world? How did I acquire them? What makes me “me”?

As I get underway, these are the some of the questions I'll be setting out to explore.

I've been told that I have changed over the past several years. Have I in fact changed in my views? Have the Democratic party and "liberalism" with which I once decidedly identified changed? Have I grown to become more aware of and to more clearly understand the foundational differences between my own beliefs and the philosophy of contemporary liberalism in the U.S.? To some extent, each of these things has happened. And while the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and their aftermath have certainly been a catalyst for my own change and reexamination of my thinking, the story goes back farther than that and there's much more to it.

My first piece in the series is coming together. If I don't quite manage to finish it today, I hope to get it posted sometime in the coming week for sure. Stay tuned and thanks for visiting!

Getting Started (The Tyranny of Beginnings)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Having amply, if unintentionally, demonstrated what I meant by “weeks at a time,” I suppose I can consider it OK to get this project rolling now. I'm working on it, folks. The trouble is, I've been accumulating so many ideas I want to write about that figuring out just where and how to begin is turning out to be a big challenge. Combined with the need to make time to sit and write at reasonably regular intervals, the experience is giving me a whole new degree of respect for those who manage to make this look so easy.

I've been thinking a lot about what I want to say and the points I want to cover, jotting down thoughts here and there and composing fragments of future posts as they come to me in seemingly random order. I think throughout my life this has just been the way that the process of writing has worked for me. Occasionally, I've had the experience of writing something straight through from begining to end without looking back, and being reasonably satisfied with the end result. More often, though, I'll start at some random point in the middle (wherever my mind seems inclined to focus first) and build the thing up, adding fragments as they come to mind, and finally arranging them in sequence and linking them together until I have a coherent end result with a natural flow of thought to it.

At this stage the pieces are starting to come together, but not necessarily in sequential order, so it's going to take a bit more time before I can start to roll the first finished pieces off the assembly line. I assure you though, my mind is still on this, and I'm working on it when I can.

It's been an interesting exercise thinking back to earlier parts of my life and revisiting the path by which I became the person I am today, while attempting to distill from that the set of experiences that seem to have been most important in shaping the way I see and think. Discovering that I am more different from those around me than I had realized, in my way of seeing and thinking, has prompted me to try to understand the essential reasons for and origins of those differences. Is there just a different set of axioms wired into my way of perceiving, analyzing, and responding to the world? How did I acquire them? What makes me “me”?

As I get underway, these are the some of the questions I'll be setting out to explore. Stay tuned. I hope to have more in the coming weeks.