Navigating Ideas: Refining the Ideas Behind This Newsletter. Kinda.
Welcome to Creative\\Proofing, a space for hopeful, creative people learning to live wisely by asking questions about the good life: what it is, how to design our own, and how to live it well.
This issue of Creative\\Proofing will be shorter than usual, due to recently joining the ranks of The Great Resignation. It’s a relief and a surprise, and a bit of a WTF, but otherwise a decision I’m glad I was able to make. I’m enjoying some rest and recovery, and hoping for some good surprises from the universe in the future. Suffice to say, I’m a little verklempt, and attempting to navigate the new normal of life as a non-traditionally employed person.
Recently, I reflected that this newsletter must appear as a bit of a grab-bag of random interests, and that that will probably always be part of its DNA. Since then, I’ve thought more deeply about the topics that occupy my attention, and have discerned some common themes that tie these topics together, some overarching structures within which all the ideas can mingle and interact.
Creative\\Proofing navigates the tension that occurs in the relationship between horizontal and vertical things: between our relationships with the world around us and with the world beyond us. In navigating that tension, I’m exploring five main categories, or meta-tags, that tie the grab-bag together: curiosity, habitus, sociality, authenticity, and making.
While these categories stand on their own, I also think about them as linked, interwoven with each other in mutual support and illumination. Curiosity functions as our fundamental approach to the world, ourselves, and others, the starting point from which we explore, discover, and learn in our lives. Habitus, a term drawn from sociology, helps draw our attention to “the water” in which we swim, making us aware of the socio-cultural assumptions, stories, and structures that surround and shape us.
Sociality describes the ways in which we connect and communicate and share with one another, in varying degrees of intimacy and influence, while Authenticity focuses on the personal work and process of living in alignment with what we discern about ourselves and our truest, deepest beliefs. And lastly, Making explores the process and practice of putting something into the world that didn’t previously exist, exercising our creativity and imagination to make sense of, and make something out of, the world around us.
As I’ve clarified these categories and all the ideas that swirl within them (which maybe I’ll explore more in future issues?), it’s also clarified the realization that, in some way or another, I’ve been exploring them for most of my life. Curiosity is literally my guiding star, the perpetual “why?” and “what’s that?” of my restless dissatisfaction with what is, in the hopes of what could be. I’ve always had a fascination with culture: how we make sense of the world, what we make of our lives together, the stories we tell to hang everything together. I mean, my undergrad degree is made up of anthropology, sociology, philosophy, religion, and literature - the macro, the micro, and everything in between.
I have often struggled to overcome a lifelong awareness or experience of loneliness, retreating to a world of abstracts and fantasies when connecting and communicating with other human beings felt too hard, or impossible. As I’ve grown to make friends with my loneliness, I’ve also grown in my hope to truly communicate and connect with others, mainly by writing, but also by learning to be in relationships. Sociality encompasses all the varieties of communication, community, and connection, and is, I think, the ground upon which we build a life of substance, of significance.
As a good Enneagram 4, I will always seek the path toward greater authenticity, living without hiding behind masks, in such a way that honors the work others do as well. (I confess I don’t do this as well as I would like, but as my favorite yoga instructor likes to point out, that’s why we call it practice, not perfect.) But I think that genuine, true authenticity comes from sharing your life with others, being sharpened and refined by liking, loving, and learning to live with people you sometimes would prefer existed on the other side of the planet.
But above all, I’ve always been interested in making: meaning, sense, and words and craft and things that I hope point toward the good, the true, and the beautiful. (Despite my best efforts to get away from ancient Hellenistic philosophers’ framing of the transcendentals, they just really work, dang it.) I think that making, creating, and putting into the world something that never existed before, that couldn’t exist without you, or me, or anyone in this particular moment and place doing our thing - that’s the real magic. That’s the real work of being human. That’s the cool shit I really love to talk about, and do, and make possible.
Let’s be hopeful, creative, and wise — together. Shalom, Megan.