While I wait for the Kid who is in her Saturday art class, I’m sitting in a McCafe drinking a $1 coffee an mooching free wifi to kill some time and to write some posts. I’m using a Bluetooth keyboard tethered to my iPhone which is plugged into a portable USB battery pack all while I track the time on my GPS enabled smart watch and listen to music on headphones so small I forgot I was wearing them. It struck me as worth writing here that the largest thing on my little bistro table is my coffee cup. I know we’re all all used to how small and clever things are these days, but every once in a while it still catches me off guard.
I’m not oblivious to the fact that my audience is minuscule.
I’ve been writing and posting content here for nearly seventeen years, and in that time I’ve covered more topics than I can remember. This blog, in other words, has been a mishmash of randomly documenting with no central topic, save one: the author.
Having a small audience in inconsequential. Sure, there are outlying posts, a handful of things that I’ve written with just enough search engine optimized keywords peppered throughout that one of my eight thousand pages of information gets a slightly higher ranking and the resulting traffic blows out of the water any other relative stat on this page.
Having a small audience is not anywhere on the list of things that are going to prevent me from randomly documenting here today, tomorrow or in the future. In fact, having a small audience allows me a great deal of flexibility in deciding what I do want to write about today, tomorrow and in the future.
For example, if I decided I want to spend my lunch hours wandering around downtown taking random video footage on my new camera, uploading that to my Youtube channel, and then posting the results here whilst I wax meta and poetic on the nature of running a blog… well, I can do just that.
Or, if I want to keep on walking past the train station after work, take the long way home by walking over the river rather than riding over it, and as I go I happen to wander over the new bridge… and happen to capture a couple minutes of nice footage of the sun setting on that bridge… and I happen to post that footage to Youtube for everyone to see… well, I can do that too.
Every once in a while I get meta here, actually. In the never-ending search for an enduring idea, I dabble online with this concept of trying to own something of value on the web, even if that something is analogous to little more than a tent pitched in a remote hinterland compared to the big-city lights of all those other websites that are likely listed in the recent history of your browser even as you read this.
This past summer I climbed up the pass of a remote Canadian mountain, hiked to the small tent-pitching campsite twenty-five kilometers from the nearest flush toilet, hiked with all our food and supplied on my back, and… I was not alone.
That kind of space didn’t have a big audience either, but it was cherished so much more because of it. I may not be a mighty forest ranger camped up and atop the pine-specked foot of an ancient glacier, but me and my kind, posting random glimpses here and safeguarding a remote corner of the web for whoever happens to wander by, we have a kind of kinship with those folks.
So… enjoy my randomness, my solitude, my simplicity. And remember to pack out your trash when you leave.
Maybe, in the waning days leading towards yet another reminder of my own steady fight against mortality I’m just getting old and losing my patience for this type of thing, but I find my effort here to be one of mixed satisfaction. So much so has this been the case, that I’ve found myself writing less and less, posting fewer images, documenting with a sporadic inclination approaching infrequency, and shrugging off the gaps in between.
I’ve been writing this blog for sixteen and a half years, and in that time it has changed over and over and over again, nudged, skewed, adjusted, retweaked, but only rarely has it changed significantly.
This might be one of those times.
Yet, it’s taken me a lot of will and power and cringing, nose-holding-effort to lean towards a new kind of simplicity herein.
Partially, it’s an abstraction of a larger glut of overloaded senses, the often less-than-nuanced effort of a billion attention-seeking residents of this here internet to distract all of us from (at best) something more productive or (at worst) something real. I feel it. I hate it. I claw it from my mind, and feel in clenching around my heart.
In an effort to recapture whatever it was that has been lost… drained… sapped… vampirically extracted from my soul in whatever span of time it has been since sanity last wandered these electric corridors, I held my nose, mashed will and power, cringed fully aware, and decided to push this site, whatever it is, whatever is means to no-one-really but me, into this odd current era of digital rebellion.
If the internet were a person, it would be a rebellious teenager. Not so cute anymore, is she? Hardly our innocent little angel. Angry. Full of angst and misdirected rage. An agent whose actions have real and measurable consequences. All too dangerous. All too flailing against rational control.
When I started this site it was little more than an innocent channel of communication, a journal from a distant me living in a strange town to a far-away you back closer to home. Words. A diary. A tale of a young guy lost in a big city.
That effort sputtered with a real-life move, sputtered into an era of complex moral exploration and philosophical wanders through an age of confusing change, a space for musing on vague ideas in a safe space. For a while I wrote just to see the words on the page and because when I should have likely walked away, instead I clung on and wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more.
Then, with a newfound clarity and locked in the carefree innocence of a now-lost age, I mutated my writing into a kind of personal online magazine, a showcase of my creative work and a portal through which my hobbies would find anonymous validation. Pictures. Sounds. Revelations of hope and idealism. Data mashed against the perpetual deluge of pure experience.
Now? I’ve been struggling to find the same joy in the never-sought faux fame of perpetual posting. Now I think it is a kind of fourth iteration yearning to clamber from the pause in my interest and effort of late. I’m not perfectly clear on what that will be, where it will lead, but the direction is one of something less trivial, more focused, yet built upon a reduction of everything that came before. Less about what. More about why. A seeking of something more substantial in a form that might be more raw, less frill, and rooted in whatever bits of honesty I can muster.
Stay tuned for a simplification.