When is the last time you read a dictionary? Have you ever sat down, and started reading the dictionary at the very beginning? My mind has been melted and reformed. My foundations are shaken, (and stirred.)

Things were defensive from the outset: The literally-first, full sentence I encountered—set off within a box, with a fancy-schmancy Merriam-Webster logo atop—is, “The name Webster alone is no guarantee of excellence.” Followed immediately by the we’re-sick-of-litigating, but-that-isn’t-stopping-us thumb in the eye of, “It is used by a number of publishers and may serve mainly to mislead an unwary buyer.” Considering myself forewarned, and forearmed with a magnifying glass, I pushed forward into the volume set entirely in a font size whose capital letters tower exactly 2 millimeters. Sure, the Preface—a two-column wall of microfiche occupying the totality of page 6a—was winsome, as far as, I assume, dictionary Prefaces go. Pragmatic was the listing upon page 7a of persons comprising the Editorial Staff. However, things became serious, bordering on salacious, with the Explanatory Chart printed, (apparently primarily for practical purposes,) in sprawled repose across pages 8a and 9a as a visual menagerie detailing the architecture and idiosyncrasies of the dictionary’s didactic details. None the less, the degree of magniloquence encountered in the long-form Explanatory Notes for that chart, which begin on page 10a, and which span some 40 columns, is penultimate.


but- ima- gah- werds-

Let’s consider another story, this time a tale of science fiction.

~ Stephen Pressfield, from

“Ins and Outs.” That piece is short. It’s insightful. …and it’s about two movies that would definitely make my top 100, so there’s that.

Two things: The more I read from Pressfield, the more I want to open a bottle of scotch and weep that I will never write anything good.

And also, the more I read from Pressfield, the more hopeful I become that maybe something will absorb through my thick skull and mabye one day, just maybe, I’ll write something good.


Enabling possibility

I feel my title’s use of “enabling” rather than the more common [that I’ve seen] “creating” is important. (Of course, I don’t craft the titles with reckless abandon; There’d be far more, “Wordy werds” and “Completely different” type titles.) But in the past couple weeks I’ve been focused on the distinction between “to create” and “to enable.”

I’ve been sprinkling a Lonely Hearts-inspired call in a few different places as I think it’s time to bring a writer onto the Movers Mindset team. Each time I post it somewhere, it kicks off one or two conversations with someone. Each of those little conversations gives me a chance to refine how I convey my vision for this new role. (As a certain reader would say, how I convey my intention—hi Angie!)

The first thing I realized is that what I am bringing to this potential new relationship is the resources—the raw material that the team has amassed. I don’t in fact know exactly what the new person would be creating. My intention is to enable someone to create something (some things?) from that raw material. I’m not creating the possibility—it’s there already. My hope is to enable that possibility to come to fruition.


Anything but boring

…what I see is not chaos but home. A prose style that interrupts itself, that can’t seem to make up its mind, promises me the thing that I open a book looking for: a friend. That friend might be insufferable (Hello, Mickey Sabbath!) or maniacally self-involved (Bonjour, Marcel!), but what she won’t be, her parentheses assure me, is distant, withholding.

~ Ben Dolnick from,

Say what you will about the Times—no really, go ahead, I’ll wait—but I am frequently glad that I keep the old Grey Lady in my RSS reader. skip skip skip skip yawn skip and then oh-hello! This piece is fun, and his perceptions about parentheticals and asides is something along with which I nod. (I shall torture my mother-tongue as I see fit.) Meanwhile, if I can get you to say, “not boring”—my goal isn’t so low, but while aiming for the stars I’ll settle for it—if ever asked to assess my blog. (Yeup, that sentence is broken just to make you read it multiple times.) A few days ago I was talking about texting. Today’s ramble through the brambles—is that a movie title? …it should be—feels like a postscript to my bit about how texting, (in it’s various forms,) slots in as sub conversation but supra full-on prose. Because I feel that my writing is as close as I can get to having a conversation… if you were a blind mute whom I couldn’t see.

End of line.


What’s in a title?

Should I write the title first, or last?

Should the title be a clear signpost of what is to come?

…or should the title prepare the reader?

…prime their mental state, jar them out of common trains of thought, give them the first bit of context, …

Should the title be short, or loquacious?

An interrogative or a statement.

Should the tense (present, past, passive, active, …) match, or provide counter-point?

If I practiced by writing 2,509 titles would I be able to write a title for a post on titles?

Could I remove the titles entirely?

Should I remove the titles entirely?

What is my intention for having titles? (Hi Angie!)

Should I have the same intention each time I’m composing a title?

Could the title be revealed last—only after the piece is read?

Email has a subject line; not a title line.

Does a title convey the subject?

…always? …sometimes? …maybe it never should?

Can a subject be a title?

Could a title contain the subject but also serve some as-yet-undiscovered-by-me purpose?

Should a title set the tone?

…create tension? …allude to the subject?

and be short?

Do people judge what I write by the title?

Do people who read a lot of my posts, versus those who are having their first experience, use the titles differently?

Or maybe the title’s primary purpose is to serve as a mental bookmark for the piece after it’s been read?

Wait. What was I going to write about today?


The process of reflection

Much of the power of the Movers Mindset podcast’s signature question, “three words to describe your practice?” comes from thinking about one’s personal understanding of the word practice. In the podcast episodes, sometimes the guest’s discussion of that understanding is a profound part of their interview. Sometimes their surgical statement of three words is its sublime culmination.

In 2019, we posed the three-words question of the project itself. This turned out to be a surprisingly fruitful exercise. We came up with three words to describe our practice, and I subsequently adopted them as the three words to describe my practice:

Discovery. Reflection. Efficacy.

If those three words describe my practice—the journey of my whole life—then what is the purpose of this web site? Why go through all this work? It’s taken me 9 years and the previous 2,499 posts to understand:

It’s a vehicle for my process of reflection.


I reiterate

If you’d like to retain and secure more of the information you consume instead of letting noteworthy knowledge pass right through you, here’s the best way to do so: share it with someone else. The secret of why this method works is in the number of times it forces you to reiterate, and thus solidify the memory of, a piece of information.

~ Brett McKay from,

McKay goes on to make several good points, but one in particular jumps out: That by sharing I am giving a gift to other people, and the anticipation of that—noting something now, that I’m planning to share with others later—is inherently pleasant and that pleasure also helps reinforce my memory.

I had never realized that aspect of blogging; this pleasurable feature, well in advance of the actual writing and sharing of things. But upon reflection this morning, I can assure you that it is a significant effect. I’m often caught yammering on about how everyone should have a place where they write in public, and henceforth I’m adding this pleasurable anticipation of sharing effect to my already long list of benefits to writing.


Once more unto the workshop

I’m well past 2,000 posts here and it does often occur to me to wonder why am I writing all these posts. It seems to be boiling down to…

If you can’t write clearly…

Crafting these blog posts has become a daily practice of introspection. Once a day or so, I stroll out to the digital workshop and putter around. Sometimes I simply clean up. Sometimes I do a bunch of heavy-lifting work. Sometimes I think I catch a glimpse of what it might mean to be a human being.


Nine thoughts worthy of immortality

Deep in the vast, mostly forgotten (yet immediately accessible) archives of the blogosphere lie billions of touching, hilarious and brilliant thoughts that humankind has been stockpiling for years.  Here are nine that moved me, with excerpts.  Bookmark this if you don’t have a lot of time right now.

~ David Cain

This is not like the think-pieces I’m normally drawn to share. This is literally a list of nine, individual blog posts (from among the billions) which are worthy of being called great writing. These are among the best things humans have ever written.