It’s been nearly a month since my last post. Did you miss me? I suppose I could say I was side-tracked by the continuing pandemic, the racial and political mayhem encircling us, or the calamitous outbreak of wildfires in our neighborhood here in the Bay Area of Northern California. But none of that would be true.
In fact, the reason I haven’t posted in so long is because of good old-fashioned writer’s block. I had been planning to write about neurogenesis and synaptogenesis (the ability of the human brain to grow new communication channels and ways of doing things). But it just didn’t make it from brain to page. I was stuck.
And now Ithink I’ve figured out why. In my last post, “A Modest Proposal,” I had condemned, among other things, baby boomer men’s failure to listen sufficiently, but instead to incessantly “Mansplain.” We boomer men will opine at the drop of a hat; even if you no longer want to hear from us.
Since writing those words earlier this month, I have reflected upon my own past behavior. I spent more than 20 years in the practice of college teaching….opining before captive audiences of hundreds or even thousands of students over the years. Right up to the end of my teaching career in 2014, I was a practiced opiner. When younger faculty had moved to genuinely interactive teaching methods, where the teacher teaches less and listens to students more, I was busy lecturing from the front of the room. Yes, I had added multi-media presentation skills to enliven my lectures with bullet-points, graphs, video and other graphics. But I was still having them listen to me; I spoke, they listened.
The other part of my career was spent as a Public Relations practitioner–a company spokesperson. I opined for others to listen and take notes. As a spokesperson, you don’t flourish by asking questions of your audience and truly listening. You spew. You opine. At least that’s how I thought it was supposed to go.
So I have spent the last weeks trying to articulate a post about how our brains can change even at the advanced age of most of us boomers. New neurons can develop; new synapses can be formed; our thought-processes, values, behaviors and emotions can change. And, these attributes of the human mind can be changed with intention. We can make ourselves to be “better” or “worse” on purpose.
But though struggling mightily with what I do think is an important thesis, I just coudn’t get over my writer’s block. Why would anyone else want to hear me pontificate about something that I’m barely better informed about (if at all) than my reader? Why? Because I’m a white male of a certain age, that’s why.
But that turns out not to be a good enough reason. It’s time for me to become a better listener, a better questioner, a more open-minded participant in ongoing conversations, rather than a self-appointed lecturer. I swear, I’m going to listen more and preach less. Maybe this should be true for more of my male boomer brethren.
I’m not quite sure how this new leaf fits with my young career as a blogger–bloggers blog (a euphimism for opine). Let’s see where this goes from here.