This is my 50-second column. For a year I have managed to get something turned in at every deadline except one, when unexpected surgery in early January kept me from my weekly rant.
I would have expected the column to have found a certain kind of rhythm by now, but it has not. It is still looking for a place to settle, still trying to figure out its routine. In that, it is very much a reflection of me.
Few years in my life have included such tumult and change. And while many of the specific events have not been recorded here, some of the big events have — a heart attack, a daughter turning 13, the loss of a colleague and friend.
In addition to the intended theme expressed in title, “Still Learning,” another theme has emerged in both my writing and in the responses people have written to me. Simply put, people want to be connected; they want to build and experience community, and the world in which we live seems to drive us to the opposite.
It is interesting that the columns most commented on are those that addressed some issue that creates a division. It would seem that if I want to increase my readership I need to pick a side and spew the requisite rhetoric, being sure to include witty attacks and metaphors that solidify the other side as evil.
That is not me. I am a moderate who has significantly conservative values in some areas and considerably liberal values in others. What is noteworthy to me is that I feel comfortable being informed by both sides. I actually believe most people do. Therein lay our hope.
Fortunately, most of my writing (not all) has been free of political expression, and so the attacks have been few and compliments abundant.
I am glad people read my column. I am glad that, at my best, I am making connections and sharing similar experiences that tell us we are not alone. People want to be connected, they want to stand together and look out into the world, and wonder and marvel and feel. We are tired of being disconnected. I know I am at my best when I am part of something bigger than myself.
I believe shared knowledge, a great story and mutual exploration of the unknown, be it personal or universal, are at the heart of what we seek as human beings. I hope to contribute to that in some small way and, more importantly, have others contribute to it as well. I have discovered many incredible people in the past year, and they have discovered me.
As is the nature of learning, I have received much more than I could ever hope to give. People are like that — generous, humble, open and caring. That sometimes gets lost on me, but in the end it is true: The world gives back so much when we engage it without expectation or reward.
Looking to the coming year, perhaps this column will settle into a routine, perhaps it won’t. My hope is that whether I proceed in chaos or habit, you will stick with me and know we really all do want the same thing — connection to one another, to be part of a larger whole.