“Say what you have to say, not what you ought.”
— Henry David Thoreau
This admonition from Thoreau has been lodged in my brain for several decades now.
It’s so important to me that I put it at the top of our “About Us” page on BLISTER the day we launched, and it is still at the top of our “About Us” page today. (More on this in a minute.)
Thoreau’s enjoinder reflects his belief that the world would be a better place — and that we would reduce the amount of quiet desperation in our own lives, and create deeper, richer, more robust relationships and communities — if we would be less afraid to open ourselves up, be more emboldened to tell one another what we are thinking about, worrying about, thrilled about, or angry about. He wanted us to be less afraid to tell it like it is, call it as we see it.
Thoreau’s line was important in the formation and the mission of BLISTER, because ‘calling it as we see it — always’ is how we have tried to operate when reviewing gear. And god knows that’s not always been true in the world of gear reviews.
And today, we are launching a new series on BLISTER that is once again inspired by Thoreau’s plea to us to say what we each have to say. The series is called, Open Mic, and the idea here is simple: we’ll be inviting various athletes, artists, our reviewers, other folks in the outdoor industry (and occasionally, me — sorry!) to say whatever they want, wish, or need to share.
I hope that this series encourages bravery and boldness.
I also not-so-secretly hope that some of our Open Mic contributors will be brave enough to be ridiculous, if sharing something ridiculous feels like the thing to do at some particular point in time.
I hope that it is sometimes controversial — not for the sake of being sensationalist, but because the author is willing to share with us their vision of the way things could be.
I hope that Open Mic becomes a space that encourages thought experiments. That it gets more people asking, “WHAT IF X”, then doing the hard work of reflecting on that WHAT IF?, seeing where it leads them, and seeing where it then leads you and me.
I suspect that we might find in this series some diatribes. I imagine there might be a memorial to a fallen friend. Or an ode to a person, place, or thing that has moved one of us deeply. Perhaps there will be a poem or two. Who knows?
But if these contributions are done the right way, then every single one of them will involve people putting themselves out there, in some fashion or another.
LAUNCHING OPEN MIC
When I first started thinking about this series and who I would want to kick things off, I kept coming back to one person: Angel Collinson.
Then, when I talked to Angel and said that the assignment was to write about whatever the hell she wanted to, she said that in her professional career, she had never been offered a ‘blank-slate’ writing assignment, with no parameters or restrictions on what she could write about.
Not that there is anything wrong with assigning a particular topic or theme for people to write about. But that is a very different thing than inviting people to investigate what it is that they feel compelled to say or share at this particular time in their lives.
Anyway, Angel was excited by the freedom of the task, and where it might lead. And that excited me, because I then told her that I was hoping she would launch the series. She agreed.
And I can tell you that Angel’s contribution is fantastic. As you can see, she has gotten our new series off to a strong start.
(See Open Mic #1: Angel Collinson, “The Other 99%“)
Again, I have absolutely no idea where Open Mic will take us, but I find that very exciting. Because I have faith that this will amount to an interesting, inspiring, useful, controversial, funny, and / or moving constellation of ideas and meditations and reflections.
There are so many thoughtful, funny, fierce, and unconventional people in the outdoor community. S lo let’s hear from them, and create a space for them to say what they have to say, not what they ought to say.
We will be publishing new Open Mic pieces on Tuesdays of each week.