Content vs. Process

Content – the stuff you need to know to effectively do and pursue becoming the things you want to do and become. Content is what you know or understand, but all the knowing and understanding in the world can’t do what process does.

Process – intentionally or unavoidably engaging practices and experiences that grow and shape you over time, changing you and what you’re capable of. Engaging the process is applying what you know, and what that does with you. Process in part depends on the right content.

(I found this in the drafts – it was written during this last semester, probably in November sometime. We turned in our last assignments Dec. 23.)

I’m blowing off some steam here. I can’t wait to get this M.A. degree business out of the way and start some real Mandarin learning. I love the books and the learning, but we’re way overdue to enter the real world of family, jobs, and people.

I’ll always read, always pursue learning, but I’m sick of a life dominated by books and papers. Where are the people? When do we get to focus on our family? (that’s not a James Dobson reference, for anyone concerned ;) ) To earn our own living? To start life?

We are Word doc typing machines. We can’t really ‘read’ the books, let alone think about them, but somehow we’re supposed to produce pages of creative critical interaction. We’ve been through senioritis and burn-out before with school, but this is different. You start to wither after living too long in this artificial environment where reading books and writing about their content dominates your time and energy. It sounds like a luxury to people juggling jobs and marriage and kids, and it is – but it’s not a luxury in which I want to live to the exclusion of more important things.

In the beginning it makes sense to spend time front-loading content at the expense of process – I guess. But (overused metaphor ahead) a sponge will rot if all it ever does is soak. I’ve seen this happen, it’s ugly and sad. Absorbing content should always continue, but there’s a point when acquiring content should take a back seat to engaging process. I can’t wait.

4 thoughts on “Content vs. Process”

  1. I know what you mean… But from the other end. I’ve been doing the Solo “On-The-Job” training for over 2 years now, and I constantly run into things that I have absolutely no content training for, and I just have to process through it. Most of the time it works out. Sometimes it’s brutal and looks awful. Other times it’s easy and it even looks good. I can radio for help (and I do), but words over the radio don’t translate into work complete.

  2. Your example works, but the content/process distinction (at least as we learned it from Eddie Parish) emphasizes the personal formation side of things. In your example I guess you could say becoming a locksmith requires more than just knowledge of how to do the job, but the practice and experience that lets you form the skills and abilities. Reading a book won’t make you a locksmith, but you still need the info that’s in the book if you want to become one.

    Self-help books and stuff like that may have great information (or not), but putting the info in your head won’t make you a different person. Reading Passionate Marriage, for example, won’t make your marriage mature and steamy, but attempting to differentiate as he describes it will change the way you think, feel, act, and relate. Content is the ingredients and equipment for baking a the cake, but process is sticking it into a heated oven. The stuff doesn’t grow and change until it enters the heat process.

    I think spirituality works the same way.

  3. Boy am I looking forward to the day when i can gather the pieces of my SHREDDED sponge, get out of the hot oven and start soaking it! Thanks for leaving the library behind! :)

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