Wednesday, June 15, 2011

#trust30 - Day 14: Alternative Paths

Alternative Paths by Jonathan Fields

When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name; the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The world buzzes about goals and visions. Focus. Create a vivid picture of exactly where you want to go. Dream big, then don’t let anything or anyone stop you. The problem, as Daniel Gilbert wrote in Stumbling Upon Happiness, is that we’re horrible at forecasting how we’ll really feel 10 or 20 years from now – once we’ve gotten what we dreamed of. Often, we get there only to say, “That’s not what I thought it would be,” and ask, “What now?” Ambition is good. Blind ambition is not. It blocks out not only distraction, but the many opportunities that might take you off course but that may also lead you in a new direction. Consistent daily action is only a virtue when bundled with a willingness to remain open to the unknown. In this exercise, look at your current quest and ask, “What alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths am I not seeing?” They’re always there, but you’ve got to choose to see them.

(Author: Jonathan Fields)

An exercise in brainstorming today. The question, in a nutshell, is What am I missing? What can I do to realize my dream, other than writing books?

But the real question goes deeper. It's not what, but why? Why do I want to write books? Why do I want to meet that kid reading my book on an airplane?

Because I'm not just in it to write books for people to read. That's big--but it's not big enough.

I'm in it to share stories. More than that, even--to share a passion. Because once upon a time, a teacher sparked a passion in me for history. Not for dates and events and names. For real history. For the stories behind the dates and events and names. For the stories about what it means to be human, about why we are who and what we are.

I want to spark that passion in others. I want people to read my work and be inspired to learn more and share stories about what they have learned with others.

And I can do that with more than just books. I have a few ideas:

- This blog.
- A podcast for which I already have a format and outlines for sixteen to eighteen episodes.
- A website to be designed, which in my dreams eventually grows into a sort of wiki for military history.
- A project in work I call the Battles List, a crosslinked list of every battle in history. Ties in with the wiki above.
- A presentation called On Courage, which I will start delivering at schools and other organizations this fall.
- An online game/multimedia experience that allows users to experience historical events, not just read about them. This one is in its earliest concept stage.

I add ideas to this list every week. Some of these may not happen; most probably won't happen in exactly the form I imagine today. But I refuse to limit myself to writing books. It's a start--but it can't be everything.

And the secret to having good ideas is having a lot of ideas. So I let the ideas flow.


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