I exist, I believe, primarily as nuggets.
The thoughtful work I build is challenging and distinctive. It doesn’t describe an inviting world that people want to move into, which is always the way you attract a growing audience.
It does, however, reflect on many of the real challenges we face in the world. It uncovers the pain which indicates where healing is required and offers insight into how to put our own lives in context.
When people find my work, they don’t want to become followers, avid consumers. Yet bits of the work stick with them; questions, connections, köans, ideas, concepts, explanations.
Those tiny bits that stay are the nuggets that contain my existence. They are little thought bees, a question that goes unanswered, an idea that doesn’t fit until the moment that it does.
I watched Jim Al-Khalili’s BBC film on Quantum Physics. In the end, quantum physics is simple; atoms work differently at the quantum (tiny) scale, and there are already natural mechanisms in the world that take advantage of these properties.
That’s not the big take away from Dr. Al-Khalili, though. He wants us to know that there is a place where Newtonian physics doesn’t work and that is baffling, weird, bizarre, freaky and every other adjective he can think of. He wants us to be stuck in his past like he is.
His problem in accepting quantum physics is that it is just so damn non-Newtonian, so he wants to share with us how strange that is, how hard it is for him and other classically trained physicists to get their minds around.
I, and I suspect other viewers also, don’t have that big block in my head (“Only Classical Mechanics makes sense!”) so for us, we are quite able to understand that matter has another mode of operation at very small scales. If entanglement exist, it exists.
The first thing that the explanation of quantum physics has to do is get into old thinkers heads and start nibbling away at what they are sure about. Those nuggets of thought just rattle around, knocking the edges off old ideas and making room for the new.
Until the Scales Drop Away we don’t have any context to create new understandings.
Wendy Parker used to read the one page pieces I wrote for newsletters in the 90s and be baffled by them the first time through. Since her partner told her that they were amazing, though, she felt the obligation to read them a second time. “That second reading everything pops into place, and I say ‘Of course!'” she told me.
One time was enough to start to clear out the path in her head, but when she followed me the second time through, she saw what I was offering.
My work doesn’t exist as an easy and inviting place to feel comfortable in.
Like stones in the gizzard of a bird, my work exists as nuggets that stick in your craw, roll around in your head, touch your heart and offer one more question to help you move to a new view, move to a new you. I say something smart and potent that just gives a tiny amount more weight to a direction you were going anyway.
Those nuggets of mine linger even while habit, momentum and resistance keep people repeating the same choices over and over again, often while expecting different results. They offer permission for deeper examination, for going meta, for looking at the meaning of stories and not just their actions.
As someone who lives in the question more than in the answer — more theologian than apologist — leaving those nuggets in peoples heads has to be a good thing, even if there is little direct correlation and no tangible reward for doing so.
My ideas endure even as people move away from me, nuggets left in their minds to help balance change.
That’s something, I guess.