Friday, August 5, 2011


I'm glad I went to university.

But I'm not always thrilled about some of the perspectives/approaches that got drilled into me during my post-secondary education.

Case in point.
"Critical thinking".

Now I know critical thinking is a useful tool, I also think during my college days, it was a little too academically vogue and started missing the point. In attempts to learn how to be critical of ideas and ways of doing, "they" may have unwittingly produced a generation of graduates that are really good and criticizing. Like me.

I learned quickly that in order to sound smart, get good grades, and basically not be laughed at by your snooty, oh so educated profs, you had to be critical, you had to tear things apart.  And not just in a questioning, searching for truth kinda way, but in a negative, non-productive type way.

My first paper ever, as a wonderfully naive undergrad was on Joy.

My teacher, who I'm pretty sure was fairly depressed looking back, thought it was sentimental garbage.
And so it began.

As this blog has returned me back to my love of writing, I find myself still slogging through some of those if you want to be taken seriously, it can't be all rainbows and sunshine attitude.

Like the only important voices are negative ones.

I love what my mission president would say (and because its; far to late to go rooting around my mission binders, I am totally paraphrasing): It takes no creativity to complain, it takes no intelligence to criticize. It DOES take a lot of creativity AND intelligence to solve problems and contribute to improving situations and problems.

I remember one prof (I did like some of my teachers...see I'm being negative about universities)We were having a class discussion about Canadian diversity and concepts of national identity (come to think of it that was such an interesting and very well taught class). At one point in the discussion she said  "Okay, well I tihnk we've fully established the problem, we know where the issues lie, now lets propose some solutions" The class only moments ago that had been contributing enthusiastically,(the well trained critical thinkers that we were) went silent. I remember thinking even in that moment: They have only taught us to see what's wrong. They haven't taught us how to make things better. I remember thinking that was very sad.

Maybe it's changed.
Things change.
I can change.

I want this blog to be honest. I want it to be "allowed" to be sad or upset if that is how I am feeling.
But I need to remember just because it may be cheerful and happy does not make it less intelligent.

An honest writer that I love reading C. Jane recently got to meet one of her writing heroes, Emma Lou Thayne.
She says she lives without feedback. "Don't need it," she told me. Then, "Write what is in your head. Write for yourself, not for an audience. These essays are for you, and let them teach you about yourself."

Because other people read this  (it has really surprised me that as many of you do) I think about audience...probably too much. I try too hard to be funny, or clever or witty. When really my best posts are the ones that just come out. No editing.

My hubby's cousin, a journalist and movie critic, and someone I feel fortunate to talk about writing with, told me once that he thought my late night posts were my best.  Sleepiness must get me to be more honest. In the dark I don't feel the need to portray myself in certain ways, or live up to perceive standards of what I think I ought to be.

Late night writing didn't seem responsible. I loved when i read this, again from Emma Lou Thayne

For years I was the mother in a home for seven that I was very good at "keeping." We had meals on time and clean clothes and music lessons, along with boating and cabin times, work parties and friends for sleepovers. We played, laughed, cried over illnesses and lost loves and went to church together.
I dreamed of a day between Sunday and Monday that no one knew about but me, to just be. I finally learned to stay up all night one night a week to write or finish furniture or bottle raspberry jam -- just to be quiet and get to the end of a thought. I'd always choose a night when I'd be busy the next day -- not sitting in a meeting! Then I'd go to bed normally and be just fine.
To get to the end of a thought???How tempting!!!!
 Two night ago, some friends, other young moms came over to chat. We ended up talking to 2:30 in the morning! The next evening a went to the park with one of the moms and our kids...between the refereeing, making sure our kids didn't run away, dealing with accidents, we didn't get to talk much. I suddenly realized why staying up to chat uninterrupted was so worth it!

And so now I type in the dark. (grateful for a glowing keyboard) My children will wake me up before I know it. But I'll be fine. 

One closing thought from Emma Lou Thayne ( there may be more once I get my hands on her book)
Read entire essay HERE.
My spiritual life withers in too much togetherness, just as it thrives in quiet. Alone I find my link to the verticaI, the divine: I meditate and pray and walk and dream and write by the hour anything long. I meet myself and my creator again. But I could never be content without also being connected to the horizontal, my people. Because I know I'll get to occupy both worlds, I'm content in either, with the heavenly balance of both.

I like meeting myself again as I write.
In the dark, forgetting my need for feedback, and approval.
And just writing for me. 

It's never too late to be who you might have been. 

--George Eliot Never too "late" .


Maureen said...Best Blogger Tips

you have a glowing keyboard? So cool. I love reading your blog Chelsea. Thanks for the reminder that it's ok to be me when I write on my blog.