The Blog as a Sacred Space


This blog post is the result of an epiphany I had literally in the middle of the night.

1.  Background–Getting Lost

I had to get up around 3 AM in order to drive my brother to the train station so that he could go into the city for a medical appointment that starts around 8 AM.    On my way back home, I realized that I had forgotten to write in my blog the night before.    I have been writing a daily blog post for a little over two years now.    I did it at a time when I was looking to change careers, and trying to create a brand for myself as someone who is a subject matter expert on project management, or at least the theory of project management as taught in the guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge or the PMBOK guide for short.

Starting in July, my life has gotten incredibly busy because

  • The project I am the Chief Project Manager for, which is to plan the Professional Development Day event for the PMI Chicagoland Chapter, is ramping up its execution starting this month in anticipation of the event which takes place on October 24th (three months from now).
  • I have started my position as Director of Certification at the PMI Chicagoland Chapter.
  • I have started my position as President of the Homewood-Flossmoor Toastmasters Club, the Vice President Education of the PMI Chicagoland Toastmasters Club.
  • I have started my position as Area Governor for Area S56 in the South Suburbs of Chicago.
  • I have started my position as Board member for my church (UUCC Park Forest).

As a true project manager, I spend the weekends planning out the various moving parts of my life so that the plates I am spinning in the air don’t crash into each other, to use a circus metaphor.    However, one of the things I vowed was that, if I became employed as a project manager, I would not lose the passions that got me the job in the first place.    One of those passions is studying foreign languages:   I use the Duolingo app to study a half-dozen foreign languages every day.   I do this the first thing in the morning after breakfast and coffee, and before I start the day’s work.    And the other passion is blogging.  In the past, I would do the blog at the end of the day.

The problem is that, with so much to do, I am working from 9 AM to 9 PM or beyond.   Two weeks ago, there was a power outage which not only knocked out electrical power, but also knocked out the internet service that came to my home through a cable TV provider.     I skipped blogging on a daily basis for 3 days.    I enjoyed the freedom of just letting my mind unwind with a book rather than trying to concentrate on putting out a blog post.

I noticed that when the electricity went on, my blogging did not return.   It has bothered me increasingly since that day.

2.  Solution–Found Again

When I was coming back home at 4 AM from having dropped my brother off, I was thinking about how much I missed having the passion of writing about various topics, and how that passion had somehow been temporarily lost.   The real problem was not love of blogging, it was logistics, I argued.   My life is a lot busier now, and rather than blogging after dinner at 7 PM, I find I have to blog later and later as my schedule fills up and I have to work later into the evening.

Forgetting about the time of day and the logistics of it all, what was the passion I had started the blog with?

I don’t consider project management, the profession I have chosen after having done other types of management such as litigation management for Japanese manufacturing companies, as a job.   It is more than that, it is a calling.   The reason is that I have asked myself what kind of jobs I was attracted to, and those jobs invariably had to do with manufacturing, first of all, but they also dealt with working on teams with others on projects.   However, I had through the course of my career relied on the companies I worked for to steer my career, and they put me where they thought I was most useful to the company, not necessarily where I most wanted to be.

After having been liberated from these companies as a result of layoffs, I now had a chance to network and ask people, given my background, my work experience, my interests, and my personality, what would you recommend?    I got the answer from several independent people at around the same time, saying “Project Management.”    When I went to New Horizons and then a community college to take introductory courses on project management and the software tools used therein (Microsoft Project), I became more and more drawn in.   This is fascinating, I thought, and the more I learned, the more I wanted to learn.   I had found the passion that has fueled not just my blog, but most of my activities the past two years.

The blog started as a result of this passion, but also as a practical means of getting information out to my team.   In this case it was not a project team, but a team of people studying for the project management certification exam, either the PMP or the CAPM for those like me without significant project management experience.    I was the head of a study group, and for those that couldn’t make the weekly study group meetings, I put the notes online that went over the part of the PMBOK Guide we had studied the week before.    The notes were not only visible to those in the group, but … literally, to the rest of the world, and I got more and more people reading the blog and in some cases responding to it by giving comments or (thankfully) in some cases making corrections.    I remember I was so excited when I reached 10 hits per day after a month or so of blogging.

Since then, I have reached 1,000 hits per day and am closing in on having 250,000 hits from readers around the world in over 180 countries.    But that is not just because of the content, but because of the consistency with which I produced it.  I was afraid I had lost the passion because I now had a two-week gap in my blogging.

But on the way home from the train station, I realized that I still had the passion, but I needed to put the blogging on the other end of the day, in the morning before I started work.    This is also the time when I do the foreign language studying, and there I didn’t have a break even with the electricity haven gone out.   So that’s when I’ll do my blogging, when the morning is fresh and so is mind.

Problem solved!

3.  Blog is a Sacred Space, an Open Mode

Why is blogging so important to me that I would sacrifice every morning to it?   Well, it is what Joseph Campbell called a “sacred space” meaning a time of day and/or a place in one’s home or life where you devote yourself to a creative activity.    If you do this on a consistent basis, you will find that when you enter that sacred space (in my case, at my computer the first thing in the morning after breakfast), your mind will automatically get into a creative, or open mode.

The open mode is a concept which John Cleese explores in a video on creativity, which I have summarized in three blogs posts called “John Cleese on Creativity”, which I recommend you refer to.   In it, you have a definite time of day for the beginning and end of your “open mode”, and a place where you are sealed off from the ephemeral concerns of the day (i.e., no peeking at news blogs, e-mails or Facebook).    Once you have entered that space, you take with you an attitude of confidence, and non-self-censorship.   Just write what’s on your mind–you can edit later.    He recommends using a sense of humor to promote spontaneity and creativity, so just because the space is “sacred”, doesn’t mean that it is “solemn.”   It is rather a playful experience, and through this play, comes the greatest creative work you will achieve.

This blog reopens that rich vein of experience that is lying in wait, untapped and waiting to reveal its secrets.   To close, let me quote a story told by the British actor Stephen Fry when he quoted Noel Coward who said that when your work involves doing what you are passionate about, then “work can be more fun than fun”–because there is a creative product that is a result!

 

 

 

 

 

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