Monday, December 29, 2008

Of big pictures and little details

I'm on my one year break -- my lost year as they call it at the iSchool. Or in my case, my lost 18 months. And I am plagued by superficiality. I can't seem to get below a very surface interest in anything.

I read, I think, I write, I talk with people about a subject (any subject) and quite quickly I find, almost like magic, that I've connected up this dot with that dot, drawn this parallel, identified this or that recurring theme, and before I know it, I've drifted up like smoke out of whatever depths I might yet pursue if I would stay with the idea for awhile, to some lofty mesa where I "see" the big picture and lose all interest in the subject. It's a kind of fatalistic, "oh, yeah, well this is just another example of that" and it's pointless to think about it any further. This pattern is getting to be a real pain in the ass.

At its best, this big picture thing is a tremendous asset. It provides unique perspective. I learn by associating unlikely events, by seeing beyond the immediate details to more remote implications. I've always thought of it as a good thing. But it seems now to lead inexorably towards a false belief that I already know enough when in fact, that's absurd. I lose curiousity. I draw conclusions too quickly. I cut off exploration and discovery. It's not always the best thing, to see the big picture or to "instantly get it." Without enough pieces in the puzzle, I see the wrong picture, I see the same picture in every puzzle.

So, though I entertain all sorts of ideas about what I might pursue next, it seems none will ultimately sustain my interest until I take some time to adjust my approach to entertaining ideas.

You know, it feels like I am a car out of gear. Nothing works but gravity and the brake. So maybe I need to have a look under the hood (is that where the gears are?). What on earth am I doing with a car analogy?

I need to study in detail why I can't study detail.

1 comment:

Barbara W. said...

Your blog is inspiring! Thank you for sharing who you are and how you are becoming! You stretch me.