November 15, 2010


After years of reading women’s magazines I have come upon one constant. In every issue there will be one article about the following: breast cancer; how to organize one’s house or how to lose weight. Somewhere, it must be written that if none of these features appears then the magazine will be mistaken for “Popular Mechanics.”  

A certain comfort derives from repetition, I admit. What parent doesn’t know a child’s delight at hearing “Good Night Moon” over and over again?

I confess I’m guilty of seeking repetition too. I have read most of the Harry Potter books a second time and Thomas Mann’s “Magic Mountain” three times. Knowing what’s going to happen can be soothing. But not always. Sometimes a story too often told invites boredom. My mother is at an age where she likes to repeat herself. At such times, I find my thoughts drifting away. The mind craves new ideas as well as the familiar.  

Toward the end of his writing career, Eric Hoffer, self-educated philosopher, rebuked his publisher for complaining his last book was too small. Hoffer defended his work, saying it contained 6 new ideas — a record for most books, according to him. I think he was right about fresh ideas. They’re difficult to come by.

Sometimes I marvel at my attempt to write a blog 5 days a week. What have I to say that might be enlightening? Most of the time, I’m satisfied if I can arrange old ideas in a new way. Of course, not to make the attempt would be to allow the brain to stagnate. Eric Hoffer saw the danger of permitting our thoughts to grow lazy: 

             “When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate…”