Some truths are so self-evident that they give the term self-evident a bad rap. One of those is recognizing that the hardest thing is getting started. On whatever it is you want to do. There are plenty of cliches to back that up: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, change happens when decide to change something, and so forth. Same applies to writing, whether for a paper, a business proposal, a book, even a blog. Ideas pass through; the rustling in the writer's brain is obvious. But ideas are no good if no one puts them on paper. Or computer screen. If that necessary first step of committing thought to document is not performed. And so here we are.
Today is going to begin a more regular habit of participating with this forum. Ironically, my entire professional career has been wrapped up in writing of one sort or another: news stories, press releases, marketing and advertising copy, and most recently, communication audits as part of grad school assignments. A good bit of idle time is consumed with it, too, whether arguing or connecting with friends on FaceBook, debating the issues of the day on a couple of politically-oriented sites, or bloviating about the fortunes of my alma mater for the upcoming football season. Meanwhile this forum, which began about a year ago to coincide with my entry into graduate school, is only periodically taken out of the stall and out onto the track. How silly. I contribute thoughts to advance the aims of other people but neglect to do so regarding my own.
So, where to begin. This incarnation will go in multiple directions. The genesis of the blog was influenced by two conditions: being a decidedly non-traditional student in a very traditional setting and the discovery of my mother's path through dementia. The latter was more difficult to write about because doing so entailed a re-living of circumstances that were not always pleasant. Entries fell under the broad heading of "The Mary Tales" as my mother's name was Mary and you learn quickly that if you cannot laugh at some aspects of this disease, you will die nearly as torturous a death as the person afflicted with it.
School was a different matter, beginning with the reality that I actually was old enough to be my classmates' father. Add to that an unexpected discovery: egos in academia are especially fragile, particularly when confronted by someone with practical (as in, for pay) experience in the subject being taught. What I expected to be my greatest strength as a teaching assistant emerged as my biggest liability. At least at Auburn. Things are markedly different at Florida State. Curiously, the folks I work with at FSU are PhD's; the ones at AU had only Master's. There is probably a psychological explanation to the difference; maybe the PhD's are more secure in who they are. Or maybe it was just me. Regardless, the Auburn experiment ended with my mother's death and Florida has been home for nearly a year. I lost some credits in the transfer but gained a great deal of peace of mind, some practical new work skills, and a classroom environment filled with other professionals. Not to mention a shiny new condo near the bay and a couple of shades on my tan.
Moving ahead, this will at times resemble a journal and, at other times, reflect on issues of the day. I will strive to do less of the latter as there is no shortage of pundits already in play. One more voice in the cacophony may not change much though I like to think that, on occasion, I bring a different perspective to light. Morphing this blog requires some heavy mental lifting; do you realize how difficult it is to come to grips with the reality that while I may have an opinion, not everyone feels entitled to it? As the comedian Ron White said in a performance when confronted by his wife about a difficult turn of events, "I had the right to remain silent. And the ability." Those two things make for a tremendous combination. Actually, life is easier in not feeling the need to share and the holes in my tongue have almost healed. That does not mean new ones will not be created but the goal is to keep the number to a minimum. Instead, this space will become a repository for information with lasting value, lasting designed as longer than the typical news cycle. We'll see how this goes. But, the hardest thing has been done - I've started.