Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Don't write if you have nothing to say.

A few friends have asked why I haven't posted for a while. Simply, I have had nothing interesting or useful to say.

I have done interesting things: I taught writing to 13 graduate students from Mexico (who challenged my notions of communication); I taught "Writing Better RFPs" to employees from one of the most successful technology solutions companies in the world (they, too, provided interesting communication challenges). I taught some of the most engaging adults in Pittsburgh in a Heinz School program called Master of Public Management for students who work all day and go to class at night(and demand value for their time and money). But, I haven't had anything of instructive value to add in a blog to you.

So, why waste your time and de-value this blog? With the estimated 1000 blog posts per minute, you have much to keep you busy (and much to ignore). Besides, I have spent the last three months reflecting on the heart surgery of a nine-year old boy, a little boy who has amazed me with his courage and fortitude. This boy, my son Nicholas, who had open heart surgery on May 21st, was predicted to be in the hospital in Boston for four or five weeks (and in intensive care for one week) but spent only two days in intensive care and only one week in the hospital. He has now been to the beach boogey-boarding and he has been to the park riding his bike. These actions (and the nine-inch scar down the middle of his chest) have spoken more than any words in a blog could ever say. Indeed, his courage and the magnitude of his experience make the word "blog" pale.

But, that said, I will share this one comment on communication: When asked about his surgery, without any false bravado, Nickie said, "Oh, they put you to sleep, cut you open, do their surgery and then you wake up wanting the tubes out of your mouth." I thank the spirit in him every day for his attitude and resilience.

I guess I'm saying that words can be powerful tools but they can't substitute for the subtlety, nuance, and sublimity of an experience like Nickie's. Words can be powerful or they can be powerfully useless. With that I suggest to anyone blogging that he or she not write unless they have something to say. Write not to write but to serve some purpose (especially as defined by their insights into, or reflections from, their readers). Or, don't write.

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