by Stephen James Wakefield
I have published numerous blog entries over the last two years, on a wide range of subjects. As an author (and a blogger keen to attract an audience!) I have paid close attention to the posts that have reached the most people, or led to the most comments and interaction from readers, and a pattern very quickly arose that remains true to this day. It is one that is incredibly revealing, even if it is not totally surprising.
Humour and anecdotes work well, but of course there has to be real substance at their core for readers to truly appreciate them, connect with them and share them. More ‘scholarly’ pieces likewise find their mark, but can be too dry or dense for the more casual readers who frankly may not have the time or level of interest necessary. Images capture the attention, but do not necessarily hold it.
The most successful posts have been, and indeed continue to be, rather short and sweet but perhaps more profound than drawn out analyses or rambling tales of personal beliefs and experiences. Photos and the like certainly help but are not the heart of these pieces, which have, more often than not, consisted rather simply of a quote from my own simple mind or the somewhat higher intellects of Aristotle, Lao-Tzu or Rumi.
We are all fascinated by the world around us, its history, and the complex thing that is humanity, the veritable (and sometimes murky) sea that we all swim in daily. Likewise, we are fascinated by our selves, that which makes us what we are, where we come from and possibly go to, our ego, spirit and soul.
Life itself is a riddle, and many of us spend its duration puzzling over what the meaning, purpose or answer to it all might be, hoping or praying in our own ways for guidance or direction yet so caught up in living this life which so bemuses us that these can only be momentary reflections, thrown out into the aether as we get the children ready for school, worry over finances, head into work or sleep a few hours away before we do those things all over again.
Life can be difficult, challenging even when things are going well, and we often race through it with only a passing thought for where it is taking us or why – but think we do, even if the answers we come up with are often just as bemusing as the questions that we ask. As such we now and then seek reassurance and wisdom from elsewhere to help assuage our doubts, to lift us from the weight of our burdens and to clear our minds of chatter, if only for a moment, in the hope of that briefest experience of revelation to remind us that there is more, so very much more to life and the universe than that which we are going about or fretting over at that moment.
Essentially, we all want and need to feel clarity and inspiration, but do not always have the time or means to read an entire book, attain a mastery of yoga or join a religious order in the Hamalayas. A concise axiom found in a book or on a blog might well be the best that we can manage at a given moment, but that does not diminish the effect that it can have on us – after all, many of the most profound works of humanity speak only in axioms and aphorisms, cutting to the chase and speaking to a deeper part of us exactly because they relate their wisdom with such clarity.
Works like the ‘Tao Te Ching’ or Kahil Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’ live on and continue to inspire because they deliver the most that we can hope to achieve in the midst of such mundane distractions, time limitations and the chaos of emotions that we work through on a daily basis: the briefest glimpse of enlightenment which offers a spark of insight and lifts us, for a moment, from all else, and reminds us that there is more to ourselves, and beyond ourselves, than we normally perceive.
These quotes and sayings are popular today because they speak so purely and yet so directly to the core of what we are, perfect in that they express very eloquently our universal hopes, concerns and confusions while not promising final answers or demanding strict obedience to overarching philosophies.
In other words, ‘in simplicity lies wisdom.’ How about that?
Stephen’s blog can be found at www.sjwoccult.com, and his new book Know Yourself: the art of living well is available from Amazon.