What's On My Mind - Post-Pandemic, Why Write?
I've been asked what's this blog, OnMyMindbyKP, about? The answer is like the pitch for the TV show, Seinfeld, it's about nothing, nothing in particular. It's about everything, it's about anything, it's about whatever's on my mind. I started this blog two years ago, in the fall of 2020 during the first year of the covid-19 pandemic to see if I could corral some of the thoughts in my head to something cohesive in writing. It's a halting process, the journey that could also be the destination, taking me to who knows where but I'll know when I get there.
Writing is like talking to yourself on paper. We all talk to ourselves all day long, sometimes loud, sometimes quiet. Sometimes harsh, often not kind enough. I try to write when I have something to say, some story, some thoughts to share. Writing is like brainstorming with myself. It can help clarify thoughts or cause more pondering, see where it leads. I read, I read a lot, I love to read. Read first, write second? Think first, talk second? Write third?
What makes a good story? Is it the plot? Is it the characters? Both are important but the more I read, the more I think the characters are more so. Without authentic, multi-dimensional characters, plot alone is dry, unengaging, we don't relate, we can't relate. We look for the common human thread that makes connection possible.
As I write this, in the fall of 2022, an exhausted world is emerging from the covid-19 pandemic, in the wake of shut-downs, lock-downs, isolation and quarantine, mandatory in many places, voluntary in others. Emerging in stages, depending on the state of restrictions, depending on assessed risk, some people impatient, some still cautious. I notice extroverts take more risk in exchange for more in-person interaction, understandable as covid taught us, despite a myriad of methods for contemporaneous communication - phone, text, Zoom - the power of all that technology can't replace in-person contact, and never will. It turns out live social interaction, even for introverts, is as critical to our well being as air, food, sleep and movement. In-person contact is essential and life affirming, we truly cannot live in a bubble.
Writing for me occasionally arises from thinking-bursts where I start scribbling wildly on the nearest paper - a memo pad, multiple post-its, anything really - my scrawl scrambling to keep up with my thoughts, trying to capture my train of thought before it's overtaken by the ever-present to-do list of my type A personality. I grab the fleeting creative moment before it slips thru my fingers, before it skips thru my mind.
But where was I? Oh, the stories, ours, others. Do we write for others? for ourselves? Maybe it's the need to create, to connect. Is that why we bother to write? to tell stories? To capture a moment, a time, a person, an insight, a story, to preserve them, to freeze-frame them before time washes them all away. To avoid forgetting. To avoid being forgotten. Our ultimate fear, that we don't matter, that life could mean nothing, that it has no point.
I believe we matter, we all matter, which our stories remind us - from major triumphs to devastating tragedies to everyday living. Big and small, impactful and mundane, and everything in between. Our stories, our experiences have whatever meaning - or not - we ascribe to them. Our response, our lens is our choice.
We all are characters in our own stories, and in the stories of others. Nobody is boring. Everybody has a story. Anyone can be a colorful character, if we ask, if we're curious. The longer we live, the more stories we have, the more stories we encounter. I seek people, to take a break from myself, to focus outward, to widen my exposure to others' stories. I ask, listen and remind myself over and over to pay attention, to learn, not only from my own story but from the stories of others.