time to think

I need to write a clear, simple piece of prose tonight. It will be the core of my first funeral message tomorrow. It will be a ‘here’s what I believe’ piece of writing.

So instead, I’m writing this post.

I’m not sure it’s an “instead”, however. I think that I’m getting into writing so that the wheels are turning, the fingers are moving, the first paragraph is being written in a document that won’t be part of the actual presentation. But it is an important paragraph. It sets the context for MY brain.

The reader, the listener doesn’t always need to know all the context that brings me to the moment of speaking. In fact, they often are better off not knowing. Not because I have anything to hide, but because it is confusing.

You know how, when you want to teach someone something on their computer, but you need to figure it out first, and even while they are watching you say, “just ignore this. I need to do this to get started. Don’t worry, once this is done you’ll never have to do this again.” You know how confused they get? You know how you realize that you should have taken care of this before they walked in?

That’s what I’m talking about. I too often start speaking with “I wasn’t sure what I was going to say. But as I was thinking about it, I looked at some things. And then all of the sudden I realized that I could talk about that.” I’ve lost focus by the time I get to, “Fourscore and seven years ago.” or “Once upon a time” or “I never met Elise Lines. I’m sorry. I hear that she was a delight. But I know the God she knows. Let’s talk about who she knew.”

So I make coffee. I write a post. I start thinking. And as soon I hit publish, I open a google document and start with the sentences I just wrote.

Thanks for listening. I know where to go now.


4 responses to “time to think

  1. Well said, John. Sometime we have to engage our brains differently – technically almost, in order to let the right brain do it’s thing naturally. In the moments when we’re not trying, or at least not forcing, the right brain kicks in.

    Here’s a link to the eulogy of a friend who passed away this week, tragically, as a result of a house fire. It’s a beautiful tribute and may give you some additional ideas.


  2. Wasn’t Elise Lines a CEF lady? If so, then, yes, she must have been a delightful lady.

  3. Is there a formula here, a reusable technique?

    When I write technical documents, I

    – write out way too much ill-connected babble on the subject
    – then edit it into a coherent, focused document
    – then copy the final paragraph to the top (fix up damage like changing “I have shown above” to “I will show below), and call it an “abstract”
    – then copy the final sentence of the abstract to the top (with fix-ups) and call it an “executive summary”

    That way, everyone gets their most effective view, and no one needs to know I wrote it backwards, or inside-out, or whatever that process is.

  4. i love this, Jack. And the question. I’ll have to think about the question.