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Questioning Questioning: The Performative and Informative Aspects of Public Inquiry

Oriah and Buber, I and Thou: Bringing All Of Who I Am to Blogging

I’ve been listening nearly exclusively to (and occasionally blogging about) David Whyte’s inspiring words in his audiobook, Clear Mind, Wild Heart, on my iPod for the past several months. Having finished my sixth cycle through [my rip of] his 6 CD set, I decided to listen to Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s audiobook, Your Heart’s Prayer  … which was inspired, in no small part, by David Whyte.

I have written before of how Oriah has inspired me. This evening, on the flight from San Jose to Seattle, I listened to a segment that helped me understand why it is I participate in the blogosphere. Oriah was talking about Martin Buber, and his book I And Thou, which she says is “about all of life really being about bringing yourself into full relationship with the other.” She goes on to elaborate in a way that I map directly onto my experience with reading and writing blogs:

When you engage in a creative act, you bring yourself into relationship with that form, and if you give yourself completely to that process – you bring all of who you are to it – what happens is that you are changed, and a work is created – it could be an object, it could be a piece of music [Ed.: it could be a blog post] – but something is created, which to the receptive beholder, will give them the opportunity to have a direct experience of the form.

So when you write a piece of music [write a blog post] – let’s say if you’re a composer [a blogger] – and you bring yourself entirely to something that is larger than you, and you hold none of yourself back, you create a piece of music [blog post], which someone who listens to it [reads it], if they too bring all of themselves to it, they are able to directly experience that which is larger than themselves in their own way – it will be different than perhaps the composer [blogger] did  – but there will be a similarity in terms of what they engage with.

So my job – your job – as human beings, is to bring all of who we are to every moment.

I know this because the easiest place for me to do this, in some ways – and it’s not always easy, but the place where I feel compelled to do this, I should say – is when I write. There’s something about writing, for me, which compels me to try to include all of it … to hold nothing back … and I’m changed in the process of writing.

The other thing that happens is I produce a book [blog post] that other people come to and get something out of that I never could possibly anticipate. …

All I can do is bring all of who I am to that writing, and then that allows the opportunity for something else to come in, when someone else, who is a receptive beholder, uses that work … and that’s not me, it’s something that’s larger than me that comes through this.

… whatever I am, and whoever I am, all I can do is offer that, and feeling inadequate is not a reason not to offer that.

I often feel inadequate, in all my affairs, and the practice of blogging helps me feel the inadequacy and write anyway (invoking the wisdom of yet another inspiring author, Susan Jeffers, and her invitation to Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway). One of the many gifts I received at CHI 2007 this week was learning that a number of people enjoy reading my blog (at least on occasion). I never check my logs [well, I did once, when I signed up for syndication via Newstex], and I never check for references to my blog at Technorati, so the only way I learn that anyone has read my blog is when someone posts a comment, sends an email, or sends a trackback ping from their own blog ... or says something to me in person.

There’s a part of me that is embarrassed about enjoying learning that other people enjoy reading my blog – after all, that would be an example of taking something personally (and thus, in opposition to Don Miguel Ruiz’ second agreement, to which I generally like to subscribe). And, in fact, in the passage quoted above, Oriah even says, in effect, it’s not [entirely] about me, it’s [also] about the reader. However, she also emphasizes the interconnectedness among us, and so if blogging is bringing myself into full relationship with the other[s], well, then, I guess I won’t try to deny the joy I feel when I learn about instances of such interconnectedness … or, might I even say, interrelativity.

I usually refrain from using second person references in my blog, but I’ll make an exception here, to thank those of you at the conference (and at other places and times) who offered the warm encouragement I need to unfold.

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