I’d like to begin this post with a short apology. (I was hoping not to have to write an introduction like this, but I am afraid certain things can’t be helped.) At the end of April, I left home for a few weeks of traveling. In terms of the blog, I had planned for it and felt that a few weeks of poetry and collage-related posts would be acceptable while I was gone and spending a lot less time on WordPress. I had every intention of coming home and not only publishing some more substantive, essay-style posts, but also doing a thorough job of catching up on likes and comments, as I had fallen behind.
Instead, I came home and got COVID. And while it was mild and reasonably short-lived, I am afraid the combination of travel and illness very much set me back in terms of, well, everything for the month of May. But, I am back now. And I do apologize if my content has felt a bit flat or stale or one-note lately. I would also like to apologize to anyone whose posts I’ve failed to like or comment on—or if I’ve been untimely in doing so.
But, I digress. I’d like to use this introduction as an opportunity to a segue to a more substantive post. Namely, a short discussion about input and output.
It occurred to me yesterday, as I was formulating the apology above, that one of the main reasons I haven’t published a substantive post in awhile (and by “substantive,” I mean a post about ideas, insights, inner experiences) is that I haven’t been reading properly. And I find it impossible to write well and thoughtfully if I am not also reading well and thoughtfully.
That is, whatever I’m reading has got to make me think. Has got to engage my intellect. For me, that usually means nonfiction—psychology or philosophy-related texts. Like Maslow, for example, C.G. Jung, Rollo May, or Karen Horney. The kind of book that forces the reader to pause every four or five paragraphs in order to reflect, to take notes, to grapple with the full implications of the discussion. I don’t know about you, but I often need books like that in order to think properly—that is, logically, energetically, deeply. They’re a necessary part of good mental hygiene.
But the relationship between input and output as regards reading and writing is not surprising, I don’t think. I imagine at least some of you share this experience. Although, I do think that input-output dynamic also extends to other areas of our lives in very important ways. An idea I touched on in Sensitivity Is a Virtue. Namely, that what we look at and what we listen to, we become.
Hate is not the opposite of love; apathy is.Rollo May
This is the link between perception and higher values: the process of enculturation (or, becoming “civilized”) desensitizes us to all sorts of things that go against our higher nature—violence, greed, injustice, etc. And it’s our responsibility to actively maintain our sensitivity. To continually seek out sources of beauty, truth, goodness in our environments. Or to use our creativity to uncover them, as painters, photographers, musicians, and poets do.
Indeed, over the years, I’ve noticed that input has become more and more important to me. Vital to my sense of self and survival. What sensory information we feed our brains matters. What books we read, what music we listen to, what works of art we encounter all matter. All influence the quality of our thinking. And also, I believe, the quality of our being.