Research Definition

So I haven’t blogged for a few days, I haven’t written for a few days, and I haven’t read for a few days. . . I am exhausted. . . probably as much because I haven’t done these things as because I have done others. . . And I’ve been thinking a lot . . . too much probably.

I have started a book – a collection of essays, I think – about various aspects of my thoughts and how they intersect with my faith. Some of the topics will be vegetarianism, “don’t ask; don’t tell,” pacifism, etc. . . I have drafted one full essay and started another, so I am working . . . but I feel pretty tapped out right now. It’s as if I’m scraping the sides of the well trying to draw up something, only to get a bucket full of dirt.

This morning it occurred to me that I might need to be doing more reading, that is reading related to my thinking. I really need to be researching these topics by doing more than listening to NPR. I want to bury myself in information and marvel at the way a brain can make sense of disparate bits of knowledge. Just writing that down makes me get excited.

For my whole life I have been a reader, a researcher, and a writer . . . I was trained this way in school, and I got a degree in it. I teach my students this glorious triumvirate (and groan when they hate it). I even had a job at the King Papers as a researcher, and I loved tracking down facts and hunting down details. I am good at this research thing, and when I’m good at that, I’m also pretty good at writing the stuff down in a way that makes fresh and interesting connections. Perhaps this is why I like collages so much – disparate pieces come together to make a new whole.

So today, I am heading to the library . . . we are blessed to have the beautiful Enoch Pratt here in Baltimore . . . and I’m going to check out a slew of books. Then, after I comment on a few student papers, I’m going to sprawl out in a coffee shop and look at them . . . picking a passage here and there to read. I’m going to carry a notebook and write down key bits of information. Woohee, many of my students would think this is self-inflicted torture; to me, it’s bliss.

There’s a ritual to this process – reading, researching, writing . . . a rhythm, a pace, a definite trajectory forward. A journey to the new transcribed in facts and words.

Lavender and Rust Art Quilt by HeidiLavender and Rust Art Quilt by Heidi at GardenDelightArts