• Paul D. Wilke

A New Direction

Starting a blog has been a goal of mine for a long time. However, I've always found reasons to put it off, whether because of work or school or just sheer laziness. I am ashamed to admit that the siren song of the Xbox is seductive and my will is weak. But here it is, finally.

As I've discovered over the last six months, having a good idea is one thing, but expressing it well is another. Learning to speak in my own words rather than constantly parroting what others say is a skill that has atrophied over the years, mostly because I've let my mind get flabby and passive in a world where technology does most of my thinking for me. I see this intellectual atrophy just about everywhere, so I'm not alone. But what to do about it?

My illness last year made me realize that life is fragile and unpredictably finite. I'm hardly the first person to figure out that tropey bit of wisdom, but I needed a Perspective Adjusting Event (PAE) to really get it. Well, I got it. Now I know I'm on the clock (we all are!) and stripped away of any illusions that life will go on just like this forever. It won't. This sobering truth has always been around, but when you're young, you don't know any better and that's the beauty of it: you think summer will go on forever. But it doesn't and probably shouldn't. That's not the way life works and no one gets a pass. So rather than just drifting along on autopilot, I chose to do something a little creative for once, something that's mine, and something definitely a little bit out of my comfort zone. This blog is a modest step in that direction.

Up until now, no one but my wife and apparently two random people from India have visited this blog. That was intentional. When I decided to do this last year, I first wanted to see if (A), I actually had anything to say and if (B), I would be able to consistently put those thoughts to word in any coherent manner. I've seen other personal blogs roll out with great fanfare, followed by two or three pretty good posts, and then...a slow fade to black.

But at this point, I've written around twenty articles, some of them quite long, probably unreadably long (sorry), so I'm satisfied I have enough gas in the tank and hot air in my rhetoric to keep this going for a little while. Even if it's all highfalutin garbage - which I hope it is not - the exercise of sitting down, focusing, and then writing something out has turned out to be rather enjoyable for me, even if I'm not curing cancer or writing the next War and Peace. It is the act of concentrating for the joy of it and not for any deadline, grade, or paycheck. One can sometimes find value in something that has no practical value.

Finally, after much experimenting, I've settled on a more austere aesthetic for the blog itself that will hopefully not be too painful on the eyes. I had such grand ambitions, but alas, the skills I learned at the Caveman Art Academy (CAA) do not extend to website design. In the end, I opted for something simple and easier to maintain so I can focus more on the content.

What do I blog about? Whatever I want, but the trend so far tends toward the philosophical and historical with a little science and social commentary mixed in. Oh, and of course, some soapboxing. I welcome comments and debate if you disagree with me. I only ask that everyone remain cordial. For the most part, I avoid politics. The politics over the last 18 months has cost me a few friendships that I regret losing and strained others. It's not worth the acrimony. In any case, the political situation is already covered ad nauseam elsewhere. Agreed? Good! So if you're looking for incisive critiques about the current state of our mad, mad, politics, I'm not your guy. Nope.

As for the name, Steelsnowflake. I had other ideas that probably projected a little more intellectual gravitas, but they all sounded a little pretentious and that's not the vibe I'm going for. In the end I opted for a more light-hearted name to remind me not to take this too seriously. And how could I with a name like that?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy what I've put out so far and thank you for visiting this page. If you have any comments or feedback about the articles, let me know! I would love to hear from you.