Love and Support

In a curious convergence of two of my favorite writers, Malcolm Gladwell was interviewed by Bill Simmons, the former Boston Sports Guy and now columnist. Gladwell talked about the intersection of writing and sports, and the common drive for excellence:
I'm happy writing anywhere and under any circumstances and in fact I'm now to the point where I'm suspicious of people who don't love what they do in the same way. I was watching golf, before Christmas, and the announcer said of Phil Mickelson that the tournament was the first time he'd picked up a golf club in five weeks. Assuming that's true, isn't that profoundly weird? How can you be one of the top two or three golfers of your generation and go five weeks without doing the thing you love? Did Mickelson also not have sex with his wife for five weeks? Did he give up chocolate for five weeks? Is this some weird golfer's version of Lent that I'm unaware of?

And, from a conversation on individual athletes on supportive teams, Gladwell was able to generalize about his own situation at the New Yorker and the theme that runs through much of his work:
My point is its almost impossible to know where the person ends and their environment begins, and the longer someone is in a particular environment the blurrier that line gets. More specifically, you can't make definitive judgments about the personal characteristics of people who come from structured environments. What does it mean to say that a Marine is brave? It might mean that a Marine is an inherently brave person. It may also be that the culture of the Marine Corps is so powerful, and the training so intensive, and the supporting pressure of other Marines so empowering, that even a coward would behave bravely in that context. That's what I mean when I say I'm Plummer: I'm working in a such a supportive and structured environment that I no longer know where my own abilities end and where the beneficial effects of the environment begin. Just think if you were a New Yorker writer, Bill. Suddenly your editors would be asking you to make your stories longer. You spend the summers at a writer's colony in New England, working on an historical novel based loosely on Freud's famous falling-out with Adler. And girls would hit on you in bars because they would think of you as cute in that nerdy, bookish way. But you'd still be Simmons, wouldn't you?

Just a funny, interesting interview. It makes me thankful for my supportive environment(s) and hopeful that these two collaborate again (but if they should have a famous falling-out, Deadspin has predicted a winner).

I've also learned that Malcolm Gladwell now has a blog. If he keeps in up, and spends a little more time writing about healthcare, I may just have to ask him to host Grand Rounds.