What Next? Chop Wood and Carry Water

The Candidate: What do we do now?

Yup, just like me.

After taking a day off from blogging yesterday—which seemed wrong, so very wrong—I felt the need to make a statement of some kind about my blogging plans. I just wasn’t sure what they were.

The feeling reminds me of one of my favorite movie moments, from the end of The Candidate. Having won election to the U. S. Senate, against all odds and only by contravening his most deeply held principles, Robert Redford looks at his campaign advisor in bewilderment and asks, “What do we do now?”

Less dramatically, and, I hope, in an ethically unblemished context, I found myself yesterday asking a similar question: What next?

In an idle moment, I considered several possible new objectives:

  1. Try to work a reference to fellow 1970’s-movies-alluder Rex Hammock into every post I write, thereby ensuring it gets at least one reader beyond my family members—assuming he meant what he said.
  2. Impress everyone with my keen insights into the state of new media today by secretly rewriting old blog posts by Paul Conley, substituting trendy terms for outdated ones, such as Twitter for AIM and Tumblr for MySpace. (But then I realized that I sort of already do that.)
  3. See if I can once again piss off Brian Clark with a mild, well-intentioned criticism of his excellent blog.

But while mulling over these tempting possibilities, I remembered something I was taught long ago by an English instructor at USC, Ken Hasegawa. To explain in whatever we were reading the surprisingly unexciting effects of a momentous epiphany on a character, he told us a Zen story: A student asks his master, “Before enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water. What do I do after?” The master replies, “Chop wood and carry water.”

Although I haven’t achieved enlightenment by simply writing blog posts for 30 consecutive days, I think the advice applies. I’ll keep doing what I’ve done all along on this blog: covering with an analytical eye the intersection of new media with B2B publishing and communications.

The only difference, I hope, is that I’ll be chopping a lot more wood and carrying the water a lot farther.