Looking for the Obvious

Is there an insoluble dichotomy between studying the minutiae — immersing yourself in it–, and creating something of value for others?

To some extent:

  • deconstruction deepens understanding
  • codifying knowledge makes it easier to teach, and possibly to work with
  • passion for the minutiae carries over to other areas


  • the minutiae aren’t useful for most people
  • it’s easy to lose sight of what the layperson actually understands about your subject
  • you might lose your desire to tend to the layperson if the minutiae is where the value is for you

The Curse of the Scanner

I love ideas. I like to play with them like a toddler plays with blocks. I’m enchanted with their possibilities, especially with how they interlock and form patterns with each other— but they have to be able to withstand some pretty rigorous handling.

My favorite posts are the ones that lure commentators out of the woodwork who show me a new block, or a new facet of the ones I’m playing with.

But I’m coming to realize that it has to be grounded, somewhat. As it stands, the ideas I’m playing with are only useful or attractive to people who’ve already been around the block a time or two. People who’ve got most things figured out, and they’re comfortable. They’re focussed on deepening their understanding of the subject matter and trying to integrate it into their lives more fully.

But it’s not accessible to the novice. And that’s not where I want to be. I love my round table here, but I also want to be continually fostering people at all stages of their path. Teaching is where the value lies for me. Not the minutiae.

The minutiae is where I refine my ideas and my conceptions. Cross pollinating with my readers, particularly the more experienced ones, is crucial for me in order to progress myself, but I need to swing back around and relate it to lower-order issues, instead of simply admiring the new shiny ideas that my friends have gifted me with.

So I’m going to concentrate on circling back, revisiting more basic stuff that I don’t talk about very often because I’ve absorbed it so completely. Because I’ve noticed, lately, that some of the stuff I’ve got completely nailed, are things that other people are still working on. And simultaneously, I’m noticing that some issues surface in my own life that are pretty basic — and it’s so blindingly obvious when someone points it out to me.

So I’m going to go around, looking for the obvious. Want to join me?


5 thoughts on “Looking for the Obvious”

  1. I’m interested in seeing your “these are the basics” posts. I might already know some of what you’ll say, but I find how you say it – and what you choose to focus on – very revealing and informing. I am curious. 🙂

  2. I’d love it if more people came and asked “how do you go about X” like you do, because that is so ridiculously useful to me.

    Pretty please? With a cherry?

  3. Kudos Shanna on this illuminating article. As you continue to think I’m reading your mind, so do I believe (more than ever) that you’re probing mine 🙂

    The emphasis on teaching is paramount – and, personally, it’s something that I feel I’ve overlooked somewhat. I’ve been attempting to teach myself, though my subject matter seems to be at a graduate level. I’m forgetting the very ambitious freshman that have joined the conversation.

    Finally, the acknowledgement that the ideas we weave “must be grounded” is profound. Here again is a common trap that many, including yours truly, become ensnared in. There needs to be an focused theme from which to build upon. I too have not done this well.

    The beauty in online craftsmanship is the fluidity at which we can evolve our self-expressions. It sounds like you’re going to be fluid and evolve somewhat. Kudos here again. I am myself going to be doing the same – and I think you’ve nailed all the reasons as to why.


    1. Hi Matt, thanks for all the compliments. It is so important to remember the freshmen– and it’s a symbiotic relationship, even for autodidacts, because it’s so much easier to find the holes in your knowledge, and of course you absorb it so much better if you have to demonstrate it clearly.

      I think the hardest part is just to stay mindful of it. Grounded, in other words. Harder than it sounds.

      1. Mindful and Grounded ~ “Beginner Mind”, yes?
        … and perhaps, some psycho-archaeology, as in ‘how-ever did I get *here*??’
        (I keep finding shards that I can tell ‘now’ are intentional-flint-flakes, that just looked like gravel the first 2 times through…)

        this’ll (continue to ) be fun!

        Bright Monday Blessings!

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