Blog it Forward- Dennis Ruffing
A tip of the hat to Jason Cao for including me in the blog-it-forward meme here on SCN.
Inspiration? Accomplishment? Super-powers?
Grab a cup of tea and share a moment…
Right there, on August 31st, 2010, on page eighteen of “Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens” by Oliver Demille and Shannon Brooks, was the moment of inspiration. I’ll share with you from the text: Level One is to read the book and take notes in it. Yes, write in the book! Well, of course. What an epiphany. It’s my book; why shouldn’t I write in it? Where else will I capture my thoughts of the moment and have debates with the author and figure things out. What else am I going to do, remember all these things? No! Act now! Write it down. Reading with a pen in my hand turns it into a conversation. Oh, and the things I’ve said to and asked of some important people. Malcom Gladwell wouldn’t be pleased with my rebuttals; Walker Percy is taking his time getting back to me.
And then again, in Montreal, February 2012, in a workshop on how to be creative (doesn’t that sound like an oxymoron?), during an exercise with post-it notes used to brainstorm: lightning! This is me, this is what I am! I’m a creative! And all this time I’ve been good at the analytic, the technical, the computational, all floating on top of an undercurrent of creative expression trying to get out. Inspiration is in these little discoveries, these Seth Godin-esque insights from just a bit off-center that open the floodgates.
Have you ever truly finished a project? Some people specialize at that final ten percent that takes as much effort (and perhaps more skill) as the heavy lifting accomplished in the first ninety percent. Paint a room? Don’t forget to do the trim; wash the dishes after dinner; or, in my case, tune the guitar once it’s made. You’re looking at a project that took me over three years of fits, starts, and effort. I built this guitar for one of my children from finding the plans, doing the woodwork, tapping in the frets, applying the veneer, painting, sanding and buffing the finish, wiring the pickups and drilling for the tuners. It works. I’m proud. And I doubt I’ll attempt another for a long, long time.
Oh, but if I were to have a super power, it would be memory recall and the ability to make connections among what I once knew. I’m talking beyond “where did I leave my glasses?” or “who was the 45th president?”* or even remembering the name of the guy who walked up to me at the conference saying “Dennis! How are you? Haven’t seen you since gave us that presentation back in February!” No, I’m talking about instant recall of that article you read, that way you solved the problem in the past, the spiritual insight from the sermon, that economic truth, and the ability to relate whatever it was to the situation at hand. For if knowledge is power, and past experience is a collection of knowledge, then connecting knowledge and experience is a super power, through which I could help someone, solve the challenge, connect two people together, see through the charlatans, and perhaps impress someone with the apt quip from Shakespeare, but alas, expectation is the root of all heartache.
Me? I pine for memory and my glasses.
*did I get you there? And seriously, if you come across my glasses, let me know.