It's there if we care to look for it.
Welcome to the inaugural edition of a new writing experiment, a newsletter I’m (for now) calling “The Thread”!
To be clear, it’s not “new” in the global, historical scheme of things, as if I’m the first person to deliver article-style posts (read: mostly inane observations) via email. I’m at LEAST the third, if not further down the list. It’s just that I feel like all of my recent attempts at finding a way to connect with people using the written word have been experimental, to some degree. Maybe all writing is, at its heart, a long series of experiments. I’ll leave that one for those who are more attuned to such things than I am.
Maybe still the scientific part of my brain, ill-formed as it is, cannot help but experiment, getting bored when something feels staid, or simply obeys the impulse to move on when things don’t seem to be working.
And that really hits at the heart of the matter, I think — an overwhelming awareness that previous experiments were not “working”.
I mean this not in the sense that there were no words to inscribe onto my end of the internet, and/or that there were no readers to peruse said words on theirs. There were words, and there were and are readers, if stats and comments are to be believed.
It is not even meant in the sense that I didn’t enjoy or believe in what I have written, if one can “believe” in such childish observations as how it would be fantastic if parents could have access to the ubiquitous airline pilot voice. I enjoy writing these things, and would probably do it even if no one else were reading them (I envision a 50-years-in-the-future me, a black crayon, a padded cell, and some scribbles about how the Biblical figure Moses was the quintessential parent.)
No, the sense of an errant experiment was the strong, creeping conviction that there was no purpose to it, at least no purpose in publishing it. As a good friend of mine encourages me to ask on a regular basis, “What is this unto?”
Translation: What’s the point?
Why write in the first place, and why ask others to read it?
And while the answer may still be a bit murky, for me at least, there is emerging this idea that most if not all of the bits we are driven to share in written form are in order to make a human connection. While our words might not connect with everyone, most of the time landing with only a slice of humanity (our “people”), the connections which are made happen because we have found a common thread that runs through our life and the lives of our readers.
Humor, for instance, while highly subjective, works with those who enjoy it because the writer or speaker or actor or comedian has found something relatable and found a way to relate it with comedic timing. And while people love to laugh, I think they appreciate more that connection with the one delivering the lines, AND the community laughing alongside them.
The same is true with stories. Stories allow people a glimpse inside the experience of another, and either expose them to something new, thus building a sense of broadened empathy, or they act as a relief valve of sorts, as we realize that someone else has gone through something heavy or uplifting or scary, just like we have.
It reminds us that we are not alone.
I think the thread is there, if we care to look for it.
And that’s what I hope holds these writings together - the reality that we are not alone, and that we actually share more in common than our increasingly cynical world seems to believe.
I’m looking forward to the experiment. I’d be honored if you’d join me.
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