Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gonzo blogging: The blog does the writer

The difficulties I have writing a blog entry about Good Enough learning teach me something important and relevant to what I'm writing about

Threads:                        Context, Learning
Relevant recent posts:     2/14/2011     Unconscious Learning

A book comes and says, 'Write me.' My job is to try to serve it to the best of my ability, which is never good enough, but all I can do is listen to it, do what it tells me and collaborate."
  — Madeline L'Engle

Okay, I have to tell you what’s happening as I (try to) write what was supposed to be this blog entry.

Writing the blog has its way with me
First, all these blog entries have taken longer to write than I thought they would, I think for three reasons. One, I’m exploring how to write what I know in a way that evokes in you, the reader, what you already know. Two, I start with an idea of what I want to write, but gradually each entry takes on a life of its own. I follow it, curious what it will turn out to be. Three, (and I didn’t know this would happen before I started the blog) the act of writing these blogs engages and changes me in ways I’m unaware of while I’m writing. Since change is a process that takes time, the writing takes time, too. An example? Back to the particular entry I’ve been trying to write.

I’m excited...

...because I have this simple frame about our learning process that provides a metaphor for how we get stuck and is suggestive of how to get unstuck: When we learn something, a skill, an attitude, walking, anything… when we’ve learned it Good Enough, our unconscious takes it over. That specific learning stops, and it’s available to us on autopilot. Good Enough means good enough for the circumstance in which we learned it. Many variables might get folded into the calculation of Good Enough… and this occurs mostly out of conscious awareness.

Given that conscious awareness seems to be a limited resource—like a flashlight that lights up only what it’s aimed at—it’s to our advantage that we seem to function this way. It allows us to be available to our past learnings without burdening our limited conscious capacity.

“Being present” collides with the “Good Enough Plateau…” in my mind
Okay so far. Now, for some time I’ve been exploring the experience of “being present.” Despite that the experience of “being present” hasn’t ever benefited one whit from my thinking about it, I still have ideas about it. I have thought “being present” means, in part, not having my responses rooted in the past. I have also thought responses unconsciously rooted in old learnings may have been good enough in the past, but some are likely obsolete and constraining now.

Bingo! Here I am writing about the Good Enough Plateau—the repository and Library of Old Good Enough Learnings—and how not to get stuck on it—which is, in part, how I’ve been thinking about being present.

Why write when you can demonstrate?
I have spent days writing this blog entry. I have six single spaced pages of variations on a couple paragraphs where I am trying to evoke what I find so exciting about this frame. Punch line #1: None of them are Good Enough. I am certainly not stuck on the Good Enough Plateau. Punch line #2: I am stuck in the vast unformed foggy space of Not Good Enough, the archetypal creativity that aspires and yearns, and creates—but never entirely captures, never adequately evokes… is never Good Enough.

While I’ve been struggling to write about the benefits of not getting stuck on the Good Enough Plateau, I’ve been demonstrating being stuck on nothing being good enough!

John’s Big Insight
This stuckness isn’t useful, either, because I don’t want to spend the rest of my life writing these couple paragraphs ever more evocatively. I just want to post this entry; I have other things to do. This is an important learning for me. Sometimes Good Enough is good enough. And sometimes it isn’t. And that difference is a distinction worth learning to make for one’s self. Nobody can make it for you, even if they think they can.