I wish I had more time to think. Unfortunately, I have a column to write.
I hope the columns I have written so far have been informative, enjoyable and even thought-provoking. I try hard. Looking back upon columns I've written in the past is an exercise I don't do very often. Whenever I get the Bluff Country Reader, I usually check to make sure my column is there. I open up the paper, judge how it looks on the page, and usually think, "Look at the mess of words. I'd be surprised if anyone would want to read that!" Then I go on to the next page and it would be a long time before I ever re-read my own writing, if ever.
I recall instances when I went back and read something I had written some months prior. It was a learning experience for sure. My most common thoughts on my past writing center on the realization that I should have thought through the presentation of a concept more, how I phrased a sentence, and why I expressed the opinion or thoughts I did. All analyses boil down to one basic realization: I wish I had more time to think it through.
Unfortunately, the type has been set, paper inked and judgments cast by those who read what I had written. Those judgments are largely internal impressions and are rarely, through circumstance or choice, vocalized. Most of the comments I have received are through direct, personal contacts with people who read what I had written and had formed their own judgment on it.
As a writer, I think about how my sentence and article constructions are affecting people's perceptions on the issue, or in the case of my columns, on me. That is self-absorbed thinking, but the opposite is as well when I sometimes tell myself, "Who cares what people think!" When it comes to column writing, I want to express what I'm thinking in such a way so people who read the column can make correct judgments about who I am and what I'm saying. Ambiguity is my worst enemy.
When I go back and re-read my writings, I sometimes recognize ambiguity or frustrating contradictions. Who do I blame? Time.
You see, as a columnist, time is never on my side. The deadline sneaks up and I suddenly realize I have no time to think, but only write. The deadline sneaks up because of procrastination, but that is a completely different topic I will discuss at a later date. I blame time for not giving me the proper time to properly think through what I'll write. Actually, not enough time to think is ubiquitous throughout my life and maybe yours as well.
On my web-browser I have several bookmarked websites. One of these is ted.com. It is a website chock-full of video presentations on a whole range of interesting and thought-inducing topics. I highly recommend it even though each presenter is trying to persuade you to think a certain way. Whenever I watch a video that inspires me, I immediately want to sit and think about it for a good long while. However, I soon get pulled back into real life where thinking is often curtailed for the sake of decisive action. This is very true in journalism where deadlines must be met and column inches must be filled. I think meaningful thought can still take place within these demands, but the full breadth of a human's ability to ponder is often sacrificed. A fuller understanding or comprehension is missed or put on hold for the sake of results. That absence of completeness is obvious in an article or column. Questions are left unanswered and thought threads are left untied. What can be done to fix this? Perhaps the world needs to slow-down.
I'm not the kind of person who remembers everything they've read or who comprehends everything the first time it is presented to me. I enjoy being able to go back to the same book or video and catch new insights. These new insights improve and enrich my comprehension. They provide additional perspectives through which to look at things. But, this all takes time, and we all know we don't have enough of it. Or do we? Maybe we do have enough time. Maybe there are things in our lives that only serve to take up our time and don't allow us to stop, think and understand things on a more important level.
And maybe I will read this column again someday and think, "I wish I had more time to think about what I wrote."
This post was originally published as a column for the Bluff Country Newspaper Group in the Apr. 8 issue of the Bluff Country Reader.