Zen and the Art of Email Signatures

 *                                                                  *
 * Steven "bergy" Bergom         Sometimes you write the story      *
 * bergy@velocityhsi.com           Sometimes the story writes you   *
 * http://transform.to/~bergy                                       *
 *                                                                  *

So I was in a conversation with a bunch of my friends talking about — among other things — signatures at the end of emails when one of my friends says, "bergy? where did you get the idea for your signature?"

Okay, so the conversation wasn't as straight-forward as all that and to be honest, I've never had a conversation even remotely similar to that. It could be that I'm just remembering a conversation I had with myself once which is quite possible since I talk to myself a lot. (Don't worry; only worry when you start arguing with yourself and lose the arguments. On further thought, I've lost quite a few; oh, well!)

Whatever the reason I thought that it would be a good idea to share just what I was thinking when I created my .sig.

Mythical Beginnings

The Real Scoop

Now that we've got all that hard-nosed philosophy behind us we can get to the real reason that the statement in my .sig exists.

As every so often occurs on the TSA-Talk mailing list someone asked the fated question, "How does one go about writing a story?" Answers of every conceivable lineage were flung forth. Novice and advanced authors alike advanced the notion that one must sit down and meticulously craft their words. Others, still, of similar levels of competence maintained that the best way was to not force it and let the story flow from their souls to their fingertips, acting as no more than a conduit for a story existing in the ether. More theories made their ways into the electron stream of the internet but few strayed from these two ideas.

I nodded my head as I read everyone's postings on the subject and I found that at times I would follow the conduit approach and at others I had no choice but to show the plot in my head who was boss. Indeed, on further self-examination it became apparent that I followed a similar approach in my job as a software engineer; sometimes I would just I would shut down conscious thought and just let the variables, for loops and method calls flow forth from my fingers and sometimes I gnashed my teeth and wrestled the code into the compiler with a veracity that would make Hulk Hogan proud. Little by little I realized that my whole life was the same way. So, how do we codify so complex a philosophy?

The force with which my muse hit me was staggering. "Sometimes you write the story," she said, "and sometimes the story writes you."

It was simple, to the point and had an elegance that belonged in a fortune cookie. Sometimes you are in complete control over your life, directing it with the same single-mindedness as Beethoven conducted his symphonies. At others you have no choice but to sit back and let life happen, giving it a nudge now and again to let it know that you are still there. What else could I do but put it in a .sig at the end of my every email and display it to the world?

And the Moral of the Story Is…

The moral of the story is: You can make anything sound good if you talk fast and don't really pay attention when it comes out. No, really! Time and again I've been confronted with a problem that I have no clue how to solve and I find that if I close my eyes and let myself drift, the solution will flow from my fingertips. That's that 'story writing you' part I was talking about.

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