Each week, the origination of this very column comes from a template – not of the ideological sort but rather of the functional. It arranges concepts into a consistent and comfortably editable form. Its headers remind of the hoped date of publication and the exact number of words (as a reminder to stay on target and on deadline). It also urges the suggestion of a title, while the ultimate choices rests with the crack editorial staff. It is all format over function. It does not write this column or even frame it with the germ of an idea. It sits, like a ruined city, with an outline of what might be but little image of what should.
Would it be better to start each anew? Could an absence of any expectation lead to more creative and compelling thinking? Like open-mic poetry, it could meander only to the contentment of the deliverer, safe in the notion that the platform was without constraint. But then, isn’t’ there beauty in brevity? Don’t we best communicate within the outline of some accepted form? A template necessarily brings order and ensures needed structure.
Still, if the template is too thorough, does it become more an administrative form desperately seeking modest and redundant information? Does its very limited scope pre-determine that the thinking produced by it will be equally banal and correspondingly uninspired?
Is an editorial outline too simple as a metaphor for our lives? Perhaps. Yet, don’t we each begin with a simple template, staring blankly, urging us to fill with action? We are born with any number of gifts and debilitations. From there, is it we that control the framing or it that controls us? Too much constrains and too little fails to liberate. Can we find our voice within the confines of a reasoned structure?