I began the previous post, entitled Bits and Pieces, Part I, by addressing the specific question of how do I proceed when I face the dilemma of not being able to think of the right word or not being able to put together my thoughts on a particular topic? The simple answer was I used the bits and pieces that I did have until I had enough information to be able to put together the whole puzzle. I tried to rely heavily on my own memory and thought processes before enlisting outside resources like the internet.
Let me try to explicate the process further, by giving you a second example. This example occurred several months ago. I was trying to write an essay on different views and definitions of liberal arts.
Because I had been working on this essay for a number of months, I had the ideas generally formulated. What I wanted to do was introduce the topic by referring to a scenario that occurred many times in ancient Greece when two protagonists had differing ideas. They aired those ideas in a public setting. This is where I was lost. I couldn’t think of the word to describe that public setting.
So with this information, I went to a friend to ask him what word was I looking for. He gave me a word. Unfortunately, it was not the word I wanted. The word he gave me was forum. It was a good word, and perfectly described the process that I was trying to describe. Why wasn’t it the right word? Unfortunately, this word is Latin and not Greek. But now I had enough information to go to a second source who knew right away the word for which I was searching. The word was agora. In Greek, it means “market place.” In each city in ancient Greece, there was an open area where merchants came to sell their wares. This area was the same place where orators would come to try to get people to buy their thoughts. So now I had two words that I could use, one Latin and one Greek, depending upon whether I wanted to reference ancient Greece or ancient Rome.
What was my process in this example? As soon as I had a general idea of what I wanted to express, I took those thoughts to a friend to ask for help in finding the best way to express my thoughts.
In the terminology of a popular television show, in both cases, I used a lifeline. The difference was when I employed that lifeline. The first big lesson that I have learned from this whole experience is that eventually everyone will need a lifeline. The second big lesson is that when you need a lifeline, use it!