When I first started blogging, soon after I went home, I named my blog Re-engineering and planned it to chronicle my transition: from the career I'd planned in academia, to the part-time work-from home one I would be cobbling together. For fun I would comment on science and tech in the news. I congratulated myself for giving my blog such a clever name.
After a little while I found that I didn't actually want to write anything in Re-engineering, at all. I went days without posting. I told myself that I was too busy. Eventually I had to admit that Re-engineering was boring.
But I had already paid for many more months of Typepad. So I deleted everything I'd written and renamed my blog, and now I look forward to posting. I wake up in the middle of the night and make mental notes about something or other I should blog about (of course, I never remember them in the morning).
What's the difference? I didn't stop writing about engineering. One thing I like about Bearing Blog is that I still write about technology --- it's part of my makeup by this time --- but under the new name I have permission to let it be a part of me, not the focus of my entire life. And I do enjoy writing about engineering, mathematics and the like, much more than I enjoyed it when I tried to make it my whole blog. You'll see it represented up there in the masthead (scroll up), as definition number three. This was, in fact, the definition of bearing that inspired the name. I originally wanted to make the title a pun on the term "journal bearing." But I didn't think most people would get it.
The other definitions of bearing have turned out to occupy much more of my attention:
bear - ing n.
- the manner in which one comports oneself;
- the act, power, or time of bringing forth offspring or fruit;
- a machine part in which another part turns [a journal ~ ];
- pl comprehension of one's position, environment, or situation;
- the act of moving while supporting the weight of something [the ~ of the cross].
I no longer think myself clever for having come up with a good blog name. Instead I am grateful that my first idea, a bit too obscure for most, led me so unexpectedly to a collection of concepts that I can mine endlessly for material that's fun to write.
And the funny thing is, these days, bearing seems as good an organizational concept for my life's work as any.
- I have a character of my own, a bearing, to develop and improve.
- I am a mother, laboring to bring forth my offspring (and a laborer more generally, hoping my works are fruitful).
- I want to get my bearings, that is, both knowledge and correct perspective. Also I'd like to give it to everyone else.
- I am a Christian: I participate in the bearing of the cross.
- And because you can take the engineer out of engineering, but you can't take the engineering out of the engineer, I can't resist the machine-part analogy:
I am a part of the Machine, of the System of the World.* But where some might say we are all cogs, I say that at least some of us are bearings, supporting weight, cushioning blows, transmitting forces, smoothing the paths of all traveling parts, turning and turning each in our own races, all of us levitating on and enveloped by and anointed in a sheen too fine to see. That grease comes in from the outside, injected by some invisible technician or watchmaker; but in the end it's the small bearings that transmit the supply from part to part. More than any other part, we need it to do our job, and our job is to pass it on to whatever parts are nearest.
The title of a blog does turn out to be significant, and not just because it's the name of the link that readers might or might not click on. Giving it a lot of thought, making it the perfect name for what I wanted to do, didn't work for me. Instead, I let my name-impulse guide what the blog was to become. Something to think about, all you newbies.
*With apologies to Isaac Newton and Neal Stephenson.