A friend recently asked on Facebook for “the most challenging and enlightening resource you have read/watched about the problem of racism in America”. This question received numerous responses within the day: half a dozen films, dozens of books, podcasts, courses, and other hubs of information resources (as well as the astute reply, “Conversation”, which is, of course, the most relational and human of “resources”).
I think that this experience was shared by most people in early June (as protests & concerns over racial injustice had reached a critical volume): so many resources, so much to learn.
But now, 2 months later… what have we done with the magnitude of worthy, fascinating, perspective-altering information & insights that have been brought to our attention?
And this it only in the area racial injustice. In other interests & concerns: How much do we know? How much have we learned & read & listened to already?
Here’s the thing…
We have enough content to read, watch, listen to, consider, act upon… for several lifetimes. Truly!
What we rarely have is the patience, focus, and stamina to learn & absorb deeply. (Not to mention, to take action, yikes!)
We all have different levels of how much news/media/information we can absorb before our brains & emotions explode or we become numb. So, if you can read the news every day, and follow lots of changemakers, and collect more resources — without feeling inundated & overwhelmed — you do you! For myself and anyone else who feels like they need a T/O on new input, here's what I propose: a break and an audit.
First: do an audit of the resources you already have.
Make a list — or create a shelf, make a pinboard, take a note, or WHATEVER — of the books, podcasts, articles, courses, etc. that have already been on your radar. A recommendation from a trusted friend, a book on your bedside table (unread), a link in your "saved" folder...
Key: Do not go looking for more information! Take a look at what is already before you and dwell there. Do not sign up for more newsletters or start following new people!
This exercise — let's say a month of break — is to take a pause from new input, and focus on existing, available resources.
Take some time & dive into all that you have already collected.
The second audit is of what you already know.
What snippets, articles, or books have you read in the past that still stand out in your mind? What is a podcast that rocked you, or a conversation that changed you? Instead of starting something new, go back. Remember the bits that you've already learned. Go back to the source and re-hear it again.
In some cases, during some seasons, what we need is to learn more & hear new voices — sometimes that results in a complete shift of perspective!
But, I would argue that more often, the reality is that we simply need to dwell more, longer, and with greater depth, on what we already know.
Naturally, what may extend from that second audit is the question: what now? What do I do with what I know?!
Maya Angelou famously said,
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
I want to affirm LOUD AND CLEAR that everyone has different gifts & inclinations, different contributions for the world. I've wrestled around with this tension for years.
Some great news is: in most cases, something extraordinary has come as a result of a whole lot of ordinary.
Let's give ourselves the freedom this month to actively avoid new ideas (great and insightful and deep as they may be) and dwell on everything that has confronted us already. To take stock, make decisions, and step forward as we feel compelled.
Mystery novels have often appealed to people with jobs that are never fully resolved (doctors, pastors, social workers). In this cultural era of many-problems-few-resolutions, reading a good mystery can be a refreshing break.
Our 12-year old daughter is the most avid, prolific reader I know! We teamed up to create a list of mysteries for all ages of independent readers. The recos below are listed with increasing age levels in mind, but no specific age parameters (as a mature, well-read, near-teen, she has read up to Agatha Christie on this list).
Our 11-year old computer is showing creaky signs of age, just about ready to go to sleep (and never wake up). But, we feel that it has served us well. When I compare it to other expenses over the years, the laptop is — at about a $100/year investment — one of our best value-for-dollar belongings.
When shopping for items like this, how do we choose well? How do we discern what brand/style/variety is built to last? Or, how do we determine even if “built to last” is relevant to the purchase?