In an age of aggregated destination sites, social medias and those URLs you have bookmarked so that you can check them seventeen times per day to see what’s new, the inevitable question for a guy like me is “why bother going alone?” Why do I spend my own time & money maintaining a personal blog, barely read, and infrequently visited? I’ve asked that question of myself many times, so I’m going to dedicate a few short posts to explaining my own reasons. First, and most simply, I’m going to hang it out there as the most obvious reason: I do this because I enjoy it. It’s my hobby. It’s my passion. It’s like asking a runner why he runs or a gamer why she games. It’s fun for me. I like to write and like to create new things, and if this ever became a burden or a chore, you’d know… because I’d stop.
Magpies are considered one of the most intelligent animals in the world, with complex cognition and strong, clever memories. Consider that next time you catch one picking through your trash. During my first run following the posting of the first article in this series I spotted no less than eight of my feathered watchers along my route.
Perhaps it is that from your perspective we are inexplicable actors compounded against your misunderstanding of our reality. We know that we are strange. But we counter those perceptions of ourselves by a systematic search for meaning and purpose and justification for our actions. We dub it with the moniker of motivation and the philosophical underpinnings that come from defining our existence through the abstract cravings of free will and the hope that non-deterministic algorithms govern our lives. We are strange, yet we persist.
I have been seeking this vague thing that might be a defined motive for my participation.
You watch us, plodding along, step after step, foot after foot. I’ve seen you watching from the sidelines as we glide through your casual acquaintance, bump and gone, swish and forward. As clever as you may be there is an irrationality in our motions that lies outside of your common understanding. Sport is irrational. Exercise is the compound interest owed on a sedentary lifestyle, paid to nature in an effort to negate the effects of offloading our survival onto a combination of our intelligence and our society. We’re fat because calories are abundant and obtainable with much less effort than is needed to use them. We our out of shape because our lives are, in general, easier than nature intended.
You, on the other hand, eat what you hunt and you use that energy to find your next meal. Sport would be wasteful. Exercise is a matter of life or death. Fitness equates to survival.
I don’t expect you to understand our strange need for motivation, then. And I realize that as you watch us, running by on the asphalt path, we are already therein motivated and you may not then witness the gaps in that state of us, at least not quite so easily. You see (or rather you don’t) that to pry ourselves from our comfortable lives and into that rational-desire but irrational-action of running sometimes takes considerable effort of will. We’d often rather not, even when we actually would. We often avoid the effort in lieu of a laundry list of excuses.
Motivation is an abstraction, after all. It is a counterbalance to the inclination against stepping out of doors and pushing the start button on our watches.
Motivation is the activation energy to counter the stationary inertia of our sedentary lives. Yet it is nothing more than an emotion. A fleeting feeling of guilt. A pesky dollop of common sense. An infraction built from inaction. The potential of a missed goal. The knowing nudge of consequence that would follow the failure of a carefully planned regimen.
Those of us who build the biggest, longest, weightiest list of motivations can tilt the balance in our favour. Those who can’t, sit forever upon their ever-growing backsides and are rewarded with raw comfort and the peace and calm of feeling none of these things.
You may alight upon the path, un-blurred by notions such as these, but are just a quick to the air when you sense the looming danger of a galloping predator. You sense when the coyote is about to strike from the grass, and you are motivated to flee. In such, you can gain a respect for the predators of your two-legged neighbors. Time haunts us. Our bodies atrophy. Our minds stagnate. Our souls diminish in the glow of artificial lights and conditioned air.
So goes our motivation, to push us towards strange actions, plodding through your trails sweating and grunting and wheezing as our wrists chime and chirp marking out measured irrationality. Forever persisting and equally inexplicable. And you watch.
“Oh… you bought a truck? You?” The question has been asked more than once in the last three weeks since we drove off the lot with a shiny new mid-sized pickup. “Why a truck?”
“Why a truck?”
It never really occurred to me, in all honesty, that I’d need to justify it to so many people. And while reason for the justification has come in many different flavours, largely it seems linked to the surprise notion that no one really considered me a “truck person.”
I get it. It doesn’t offend me. It’s just curious… telling… intellectually interesting from the perspective of the labels we put on each other as a modern consumer society with well-defined notions of matching toys to types, personas to purchases.
I tend to mutter something about it having been “time for a change” or “hauling stuff” while Karin counters with the comment that the new truck is my “mid-life crisis vehicle” and so long as it putters out at that… we cool. And those explanations are usually good enough to most anyone not looking for an in depth philosophical inquiry into the nature of modern society and a treatise on the minimum height requirements to ride on this roller coaster we call twenty-first century culture. It’s good enough to put a wedge between this idea of a nerdy computer guy in his grey hatchback with colouring books in the back seat and this running, photographing-things, father now driving this sporty off-road-capable, 4×4 black truck with a hood scoop.
However, this rationale was much more sound than simply a “mid-life crisis” impulse buy so that I could cruise around town in a sporty new truck.
the air of a pretentious philosophical twit
In fact, I would submit to the court (of public opinion and scrutiny) that the truck purchase ranked among some of my more logic and well-reasoned (nay, over-thunked) spends in recent memory. That justification however is hard to sum up in a sentence or two without invoking the air of a pretentious philosophical twit.
It starts something like this: there is a seed in every rational decision that is weighted against the value of gained and lost opportunity, otherwise known as opportunity cost.
Insert Wikipedia definition here: “In microeconomic theory, the opportunity cost of a choice is the value of the best alternative forgone, in a situation in which a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives given limited resources.”
In other words, with strict limits imposed by reality –anything from either a fixed amount of available money, the illogic of choosing more than one option or the simple fact you can only live your life once– there are obviously considerations to be made in the context of what is gained and what is lost by making a choice. It seems simple if you don’t think about it too hard, but it’s a valuable and refined tool against which the making of high-value, single-choice, narrow-resourced decisions can be weighed and considered.
a deliberate overthunking of the choices
Overthunked, you might say, and perhaps you’re correct. But you don’t necessarily get ahead in this world by under-thinking things and making rash decisions, do you? Sure, occasionally you luck out and stumble into a lucky choice, and when the options are often binary or 50/50, the odds are pretty good that you can trip along and come out on top with enough frequency to discourage any effort to the contrary. If that’s your style, all the power to you. For those of us less inclined to gamble, however, a deliberate overthunking of the choices can be a valuable tool.
Thus, the truck. Or… “Why the heck did you buy a truck?”
The truck was completely overthunk. I admit it.
Weighted against the decade-long-span of time that presumably will be the minimum span of service required by whatever vehicle we chose, the opportunity cost proposition arose and a few additional factors that were less about mileage and safety-ratings and more about fun and lifestyel suddenly came into play. Factors such as:
- that single child about to enter her pre-teens (shudder) factor, and all the outdoor, sports-equipment, XC-skis in the box, moving stuff around in the wilderness and tents and sleeping in nature and oh, maybe-someday we could but a tent trailer or some kayaks or something possibilities that presented
- that ten-year-old house needing tweaks over the next decade factor, inducing the notion of near-future renovations, upgraded furniture and appliances, yard junk and trips to hardware stores, and all the unforeseen occasions that you pay a hundred bucks for delivery and wouldn’t-it-be-nice to just have truck to cart that around moments
- that yes-it-really-kinda-is-my-midlife vehicle factor, and after driving simple urban vehicles for many years, maybe I do kinda want to drive something where I could push the adventure envelope a little further, tossing some photography equipment into a 4×4 or off-roading into some ultra-racing locations, or being the guy with the cooler and the equipment for a change
this is all a bunch of bullshit
Overthunk, complete with the air of a pretentious philosophical twit. AmIright? Yes, you are. Because ultimately, of course and you knew already, this is all a bunch of bullshit.
In the end all this rational opportunity equation balancing and drivel really came down to a justification for something a lot simpler: I bought a truck because I wanted a truck… to do stuff… and it seemed like it would be fun. And yeah, maybe you never thought much that I might be the kinda guy who would buy a truck and drive around town in a 4×4, I guess, but apparently you were wrong.
Now, who needs help moving?
Once more it is June. Again. And again I embark upon that epic effort of daily blogging, take three, wherein I call upon myself for a kind of rambling focus, picking from a list of daily topics, and with neither planning nor advance writing, strive to pepper this blog with the free-thought, free-writing wonder that is another one of Those 30 Posts in June. Today, that post just happens to be:
June 30th // Something You Want To Share
In case you’re new around here, I write. A lot.
There are lots of reasons people write blogs, after all.
Some people see it as a route to riches, assuming that if they publish enough drivel, attract enough hits, and bait enough links then they will start to make money. Some do.
Other people see it as a pathway to fame. They pick a topic, write and write and write some more, and hope that they can hold the fleeting attentions of a fickle audience for long enough to bolster some kind of reputation or identity that will define them inside of a public space. Many people accomplish this as well.
Still other folks write for other innumerable other combinations of reasons: to rant, to be heard, to start conversations, or to build a community around a nugget of an idea.
And I’ll admit. I’ve flirted with each and every one of these reasons in the more-than-twelve years I’ve been writing on this blog. But none of them have really, truly stuck.
What keeps me coming back is the idea that I’m sharing. Our elders always taught us to share, after all, and the sharing of experience, the sharing of our days and our lives, the sharing of our selves… these all seem quite a lot more meaningful, grounded… and often in many ways grouding… that all those other reasons combined.
I write here because I want to share. I just spent twenty-nine days sharing words, glimpses, notions, moments, thoughts, and fragments of our lives. A lot of it was drivel. Some of it had more meaning. Some of it should, frankly, be deleted. But I shared it. And I hope you enjoyed it. And we now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
This is a cross-post with my photo-per-day blog: Pixlated.
I’ve pretty much decided I don’t like photo themes. On the very last day of my second attempt at a “themed week” for my photo-per-day project, I’m feeling decidedly stifled by my chosen collection of pics. Here’s four reasons why:
4. Too much focus on an unknown. I mean, call me out on my original assumption that a theme would narrow the focus in a good way. Albeit I’ve only got two theme experiences as a reference, but my new perception of this narrowed focus is decidedly negative. Look at it this way: I had started on the assumption — the positive assumption — that knowing what I needed to shoot each day would let my mind center on that topic, think about it, and come to recognize it when I saw it. Yeah, that happens… to an extent. Take the photo of Claire pouring her cereal, for example. Narrowed focus plus opportunity equals decent photo. But the problem is that the crux of the project starts to rely on the wrong thing. Rather than me thinking about photography itself and seeking interesting shots (purely for the sake of interesting shots) my head is always looking for that theme-pic opportunity. It’s looking for an unknown — focusing on an unknown — rather than having fun with photography. I don’t know from moment to moment what I’m looking for save that it fits the theme: I’m seeking an unknown. Without a theme, on the other hand, I’m seeking any opportunity. I can go out looking for a shot and share something interesting, knowing that wherever I happen to go with my camera the chances I’ll find something are high. But in a theme week? It’s a gamble.
3. Rushed opportunities. Building on that idea, I’ve always considered this project as an attempt at creating more thoughtfully deliberate photos. You know what that means: stop, plan, focus, think, shoot deliberately in the moment and opportunity, using the light well and creating something interesting to look at. Also… with just one photo per day: it makes you stop and consider. It makes you cull. It makes you hone your skills. But with a theme, the time for thought is compressed. Unless you are deliberately staging all the shots — as I did when I fed the dog a handful of treats so she would sit still and gnaw long enough for her five minute photo shoot earlier this week — themed opportunities pop up and disappear. If I was trying to do a project in being a paparazzi, sure… photos on the spot, in the moment, as a quick-draw-and-click: that would be good. Learning to snap the perfect photo in a two second window would be awesome skill development. But, again, not the point of this project. Thoughtful, planned, sought, and practiced: that’s the point. Grabbing a quick shot with my iPhone because the opportunity popped up and I didn’t have a better camera over my shoulder at that particular moment… that’s not the point.
2. Mistaken abundance. We humans are bad at recognizing when we’ve fallen into the trap of pattern blindness. It’s actually a big issue that feeds (mostly unrelated-to-photography things like) the modern paranormal movement and the irrational illogic behind things like alternative medicine and the anti-vaccination movement. I digress a little, but my point is that our brains are programmed to pick out patterns: as the cliche goes… on the Savannah twenty thousand years ago, seeing patterns would save your life. But in the modern world, seeing patterns usually means swimming against the stream of logic and reason, ignoring things that don’t fit a pattern our brain has set upon, and risking the consequences of a bad roll of the dice (so to speak.) I mention this only because I tend to get pattern blindness when it comes to themed photography… in a way. On this project as well as with past attempts at the same, I see a collection of very different objects that have been arbitrarily categorized in my theme as fitting together. My pattern-happy brain kicks in and says, sure, of course they all fit: look at them all… wowzah! But then my logical brain kicks in and tells me: slow down there bud… it’s all too similar to other things I’ve snapped. They duke it out for a while like this, the two corners of my mind, but what it really comes down to is — and remember, this is my logical brain writing this post so we’re biased here — that my pattern-happy brain has mistaken a perceived pattern for true abundance. In other words, I start out thinking there are lots of things to take pictures of in my theme and quickly discover that this abundance is largely just a pattern in my head. The number of opportunities I encounter in any given day is not nearly as diverse as I figured when I started out. The scope of the photos suffers and I get bored as a result.
1. Much too comfortable patterns. In a very similar vein to the previous point, it’s just way too easy to fall into a pattern. The culmination of the repetitious theme and the narrow band of opportunity means less thoughtful photography, and that overlaps into an enacted pattern in my behavior to “just fill the assignment” each day. For example, did you happen to notice that all my photos this week were either (a) cell phone pics or (b) shots with my 50mm fixed length lens? You might not have noticed, but I sure did. In fact, far from encouraging a roving creativity to blossom from the confines of an assignment, the overlaying of a theme on the project seems to have narrowed my efforts into a mode where I didn’t even bother to change my lens out this week. All week. That’s too comfortable for the parameters of this project. And an important lesson to boot: there is something in the freedom to shoot that fleshes out the creativity in a positive way. Patterns are not creativity. There’s a reason they are called patterns: they allow us to duplicate another person’s creativity. Sure, it could be argued that a truly creative person will add their own signature and flourish to a pattern, like a dress-maker selecting a unique fabric for an otherwise fixed design, or a chef adding a spicy twist to a familiar recipe. But patterns can be comfortable, too, and can make one crafty without much creativity. And the last thing I want is for this project to be is more like a craft project.
But then maybe this is all bunk and I just picked a bad theme. Thoughts?
For the entire month of June I’m planning on writing a series of blog-a-day posts based on a set series of open-ended questions to myself. This is one of those posts.
June 21st // Something You Want To Experience
If you have been following this blog’s June blog-a-day series, you may have noticed a theme. The first ten days are trying to be backward reflections on my life, the second ten days are intended to be timely, in-the-moment glimpses of my little world as it currently stands, and the last ten days are questions asking about some indeterminate point in my future existence or supposed state of being. Of course, these things are never so cut-and-dry, but the aforementioned theme does exist… however abstractly. And one might have also noticed that, given it is now June 21st, the third and final phase of that trio of themes kicks off today: The future. (*cue ominous music*) Which is a whole different thing to write about, now isn’t it?
Additionally, having asked something as vague as “what is something you want to experience” is not only making my brain hurt a little bit, but forcing me to consider where to even start: experiences — big, small or otherwise — can be intensely personal quips of life or insanely public bursts of whateverness, and everything or anything in between, of course. So, where do I even begin to get my head around this one?
In the past couple weeks I’ve written a lot on running, a lot of fatherhood, and a little bit about my professional efforts. And why is that? Well, it’s probably related to those efforts being mostly what I’ve been doing and thinking about lately. It was all relevant for those “past” and “present” posts: I’ve been running, lots. I’ve been doing daddy-type things constantly because, well, it’s hard to ignore that little nearly-four-year-old who lives in my house — hard to ignore her both for sentimental and legal reasons. And the professional bit has just sort of happened out of due course and routine responsibilities of that whole working-guy hat I wear. But as far as what I’ve been ignoring — what I have not been writing about much, let alone thinking about and working at — is my writing in itself, as the meta-type concept or topic it happens to be. And as far as bucket-list-life-experiences go, the whole vague idea of ‘Recognition for Accomplishments in the Field of Wordsmithery’ has been on that bucket-list for a very long time. So, it seems that I really should think about it more. Or, so I tell myself.
The thing is, my mild obsession with writing goes back to a definitive point in 1985. I was in, what at that time was called, a “Challenge” class, where — for kids silly enough to get their regular work done promptly and sit quietly and eagerly waiting for more — we were “challenged” with non-curriculum activities while everyone else struggled through the arithmetic and spelling lessons we brushed off as trifling inconveniences on the path to higher knowledge and social stigma. Sounds a little pretentious, doesn’t it? I’m not going to deny that, but hey… I was nine.
It was in this extra-curricular school-based group that I spent a whole semester during a very susceptible phase of my cognitive development (apparently) being trounced by the notion that every single one of us would, could and should aspire to greater things through the delicate and beautiful art of storytelling. We should all be writers. Novelists. Wordsmiths at age nine and forevermore. And for some reason, that selfish and pretentious little notion has stuck in my head and — despite my (current and acute) awareness of what that notion actually is and how it got there, the little muse-like parasite living in a dark, brooding corner of my mind — it refuses to dislodge and just go away, leaving me (I assume) in a less-broodful place. So here I am, nearly three decades later, pattering away on keyboards feeding that parasite and contemplating what destiny it has in mind for me.
Hence, something I want to experience is…? Well, what then?
For a long, long time that was very simple answer. The whole my-name-on-the-cover-of-a-novel seemed like the obvious way to go for someone seeking validation for the whole putting-words-on-paper craft. It was the only way to go, really. It was, despite the vast, uncounted collections of mixed quality novels filling the shelves of bookstores, libraries, and history itself, publication on pulp really was the measure of success. And maybe it still is. Maybe, well.. what do I know, really?
But as far as seeking experiences, looking out for that moment when I can check something tangible from my unwritten, mental bucket-list and get on with my life, I’m not exactly sure what that is anymore. Maybe it still is the my-words-in-pocket-book-format goal of yesteryear. Or maybe it is something else entirely. Maybe it is experiencing something other with the whole creative effort that doesn’t fit that easily-defined moment of time, that absolute, or that fixed paper-bound goal of my aged-nine-self. Maybe that experience is something I haven’t figured out yet. I just know that something I want to experience still seems to be something relating to words, writing, and something yet ill-defined that goes with it all. And is that so much to ask?
For the entire month of June I’m planning on writing a series of blog-a-day posts based on a set series of open-ended questions to myself. This is one of those posts.
June 18th // Something You Are Ignoring
Blogging is a funny thing. Sometimes, like with this push for thirty questions in June, it consumes your free time. You hold an idea in your head for hours so that it can stew, baste and other-cooking-type-metaphor things. But then… Sometimes you just forget about it. Ignore it.
I was not ignoring this blog. Instead, I was scanning across the ‘8’ questions, looking for a bit of a theme to write on today: first, last-week-or-so’s “Something You Have Fixed“, then this post, “Something You Are Ignoring”, followed by “Something You Want To Break” in another ten days. So then — I quietly ask myself — what is that particular ‘something’ that is trying so hard to emerge as a theme from this set of questions? What is stuck in the middle of that, that is something I am ignoring? Do I know? What is worth writing about? What is the…
But, despite my all-consuming confusion on the subject, I think I do know the answer.
It’s my parenting blogger hat.
See, ten days ago, I wrote about a funny little fatherhood experience that conveniently emerged as I sat on the couch trying to ignore the fact that I couldn’t actually think of something that I’d recently fixed. Then, voila! Bloody nose, crying daughter, and… there it was. And for a few days I was feeling pretty good about capturing that moment.
Thinking ahead ten days, I can get glimmers of things — parenting related — that bring out the skeptical, rational-minded father in me and leave the air rife with topics about parenting, et cetera, of things I’d like to break. And thinking about that I’m getting all tingly. I’m anticipating writing about dad-hood and getting all in-your-face-opinionated about something for a good cause.
But right here in the middle, there is something — possibly — and perhaps by the very fact that I AM ignoring it so well, I am ignoring and completely oblivious to the fact I am ignoring it. And maybe I’m only thinking all this because of the fact that tomorrow is Father’s Day, and this whole weekend is promising to be plumped full of father-ish type activity, that I’m not actually, truly, positively admitting to myself that I am ignoring. But I am, right?
Thing is, something I do quiet enjoy thinking and writing about is parenting topics. It’s a big, important part of my life these days. But I also have to fully admit that I’ve lately been ignoring something related to that job, and the ‘other duties as required’ classification that goes along with. See, for the longest time — well, since a few months prior to this whole fatherhood gig — I have actually, diligently, been busy keeping a fairly extensive collection of writings on fatherhood. Some have been here. Some have been other places. It’s not exactly a book-level quantity of writing, but given that your average twenty-first century North American father probably writes very, very little about the experience of the same, I am one of those dudes in the — as it’s called — long tail of things, who is practically drowning in words on the subject.
Or at least I would be, were I not ignoring that so much, at least lately.
Now, one may have noticed, if one is stumbling anew through this blog, that I’ve added a lot of — well, let’s call them security — features since last I hosted this collection of words out in the open. For example, if you want to post a comment, you need to buck up and register for an account. (And there is no way to cross-link your openid account, or your facebook account, or your google acocunt, or whatever. It’s really not meant for much of any other reasons than to (a) make you stop and think “do I really want to comment?” and (2) make me stop and think “do I really want your comment?” And yes, I’m being picky that way now. Suck it up. This isn’t a democratic website.)
But the thing is, I do like to blog. I really like it. Even if no one is reading, I’m going to blog. For some reason I don’t think it is something I am able to ever give up. And as such, I’m going to be doing it for a very long time. So, along with all the security concerns, and privacy concerns, and opinionated concerns about such things, the fact also remains that a lot of the time I’m going to have a very different opinion about things than a lot my diverse readers. This is particularly true about parenting. And this is much of the reason why I have a place where I write about parenting that — while many, many people know about it — if you are a reader here, you may or may not know about that space, too.
Or you might. It’s not a deal. It just is.
But I’ve been ignoring that space lately. And I can’t exactly put my finger on why I’ve been ignoring it. Thing is, this isn’t some private intervention for my actions of ignoring it. It’s mostly just a statement of fact. Fact is, I have a lot of little projects on the side. This is still — kinda — a side-type project. It just is. And sometimes some get more attention than others. There’s nothing to be mis-interpretted from that.
But that project has a special kind of place in my heart, maybe because writing there for so many years now and getting a better sense of myself as both a person and a dad — whether readers agree with that sense of either (and I know lots might not) — maybe that has made me a better dad — at least I’d like to think so. And as I’ve been so good at ignoring it lately, it kinda makes me wonder if I’m missing out on something else that might come out of it. Or whatever.
Ignoring things does that.
For the entire month of June I’m planning on writing a series of blog-a-day posts based on a set series of open-ended questions to myself. This is one of those posts.
June 2nd // Something You Have Lost
Something tells me that part of writing these daily posts is definitely going to be one whole part ‘interpretation and clarification’ of the question. For example, when I ask myself what’s something I’ve lost, I do not think that the spirit of the question will be fulfilled by an answer that reaches into the intangible or philosophical by saying something such as “I’ve lost my trust in the innocence of society” or “I’ve lost my freedom to get up and do things on a whim causing to me to miss things (like last night’s U2 concert) due to lack of planning and other adult obligations.” No. Those things don’t really answer the question at hand.
But what have I lost? And what have I lost that would be worth blogging about? Which is as much to say, what is something that I had in the past that I no longer have now and don’t expect to have again in the near future — again, following the rules of also being tangible and not-wholly-conceptual? What have I lost? I’m not exactly sure that is a particularly easy of a question to answer as it first appears. This is due largely to the fact that knowing about losing something implies missing it (or at least being aware that it is gone) and there is nothing right at this moment that I seem to be missing enough to consider it lost… or at least nothing tangible, physical, or existing in some form in the real world and outside my mind or personality.
When I originally wrote these questions late last month, I had been a lot more wordy in my approach. You may notice that if you click through the list of questions that they are all in a themed, step-by-step, fill-in-the-blank kind-of list. This was not the case in the first draft. In the first draft of these questions I had (quite verbosely) filled out a month’s worth of long-winded and philosophical questions, questions asking me to consider broader ideas about love, politics, relationships, society, and self in the context of the here-and-now. It seemed like a good idea in the abstract, but then I wrote them down, read them, and I got to thinking about how I would answer some of those questions, the people I’d need to (possibly) offend, and that the end result would probably be just a bunch of incoherent rambling about really-very-vague and philosophical topics — and so I went with plan B.
The reason I bring this up is not (as you might be speculating) to imply that I’ve lost those questions as a (weird and vain) way of answering today’s question, but rather to note that one particular question in that first draft had asked me to consider “something I’ve recently acquired” and how it had “changed my life for better or worse.” It was actually a not-so-sneakily probing at something called affluenza (a topic I was mildly obsessed with a half a decade ago or more) and my own round-about attempt at forcing myself to write a self-deprecating, poking-kinda jab at “oh, look, you’ve bought something great, but — ha ha ha — now you have something else to keep charged or filled with electronic content that costs even more money — ha ha ha — look at you you silly git.” Oh, what a jerk I can be. It’s just that this particular question (about affluenza) which is now lost is the ancestor to THIS particular question (about losing something) now sitting in front of me begging to be answered in a way that (knowing my original intent in trying to trick myself) itself begs to be self-deprecating. And that’s a lot of begging from one seemingly innocent answer that could just have been answered by saying “my keys” — were that actually the case.
And though I’ve made a lot of commentary on the role and importance of “stuff” in relationship to the world at hand, here we are now deep into this post and I still haven’t said anything about actually losing anything, or anything that’s been lost, or anything I’m planning on being lost. There can only be one of a very limited numbers of reasons for this. First, I might not have lost anything lately. Two (as before) I might not have noticed I’ve lost anything lately. Or, three, I might have lost something lately, but have become either so indifferent to losing things (due to reasons ranging from relative quantity to higher philosophy) that I just haven’t put that much value on the loss to keep in close in memory.
And even as I type these words, little memories of things lost — more missed opportunities or squandered, to be honest — flick through my mind and tell me that the real truth is something resembling reason three — and not the ‘good’ reason three of higher philosophical ideals, but the ‘bad’ reason three of a mass accumulation of things that lets me toss aside movie tickets I’ve won, ignore audio books downloaded, comics purchased, games acquired in bargain-basement-whimsically-cheap sales that have never been played, or let expire gift certificates that I’ve bought because I’ve literally overloaded my life with things and stuff that these things have lost their true value on their own, as sad as that might be, and I can’t be bothered to do anything but leave them lost, nothing much more than clutter in the past never to be seen again, neither abstract nor philosophical.
So, I suppose, that’s what I’ve lost.
…filling the spaces, pots, and planters with an assortment of foliage, plants, seeds, and other recently purchased bits of life, flora, soil, et cetera, in a vaguely directional attempt to beautify this little chunk of land we call our back yard, a haven for rapid greening in a short five month window prior to yet another inevitable snowfall that reduces it all to brown chaos, death, and depression.
…or at least as much as a couple with a tag-along child can at a birthday-slash-going away party at Jess and Martin’s house, grilling various meats with folks we sorta-know through past associations at similar gatherings in distantly fleeting memories.
…logging yet another nine point some kilometers around the neighborhood with my now-familiar half-marathon training crew, the days getting brighter and warmer, and the courses getting longer and more grueling, yet still leaving the falvour of success in my mind as I traipse through each footfall aside some interesting young strangers who distract me long enough from the fear of my weakened ankle to actually leave me feeling as if I could accomplish a full race someday, again.
…with grandma, my mom, who left at home by dad, off visiting Japan with Derek (working, training, something or another) was up for various reasons, one of which was to see her granddaughter, the other of which will be explained a just a wee, tiny, little bit further down the post.
…we garden more…
..continuing the work left not quite completed at the end of yesterday, watering, finalizing the seeding of the dirt-enclosed shape, no longer the perfect rectangle I’d originally built, that is my vegetable garden, plucking weeds and trimming grass, as the rain lurked on the horizon threatening to muddify everything underfoot.
…we party more…
…now the youngest, go-gettem-est, at great-grandma’s (to Claire) ninetieth birthday party.
The truth of it is that I’m probably overcompensating right now…
I mean, I haven’t really blogged in over a year. And I do mean blogged. Really blogged. That act of just opening up a blank bit of screen and letting the text run freely, not so much concerned about opinions as much as marking a point in time, and then hitting publish and letting the words float into the past for some impossible future, a self-referencing journal of narcissistic whimsy. And I kinda have this urge to get it all caught up — trivial as it is — like I missed telling so much and now I need to fill in the blanks. Like I need to back fill for the last year, tell all the stories I missed between then and now, about being unemployed for six months, about the contract work I did, about my new job, about being a dad to a ferociously smart little girl, about grandma’s funeral, about traveling to the Dominican Republic and Hawaii a few months later, about new friends, lost friends, past ideas, thoughts, ideologies, about what I’ve been reading, writing, building, and playing, about running, running injuries, pains, and doubts, about dealing, diverting, distracting, and dismissing the angsts of months gone past, about new thoughts and perspectives, and about all the trivial life events in between. About everything that has filled the year.
There’s just so much.
Such as, for example, I just this morning transferred over my “2010 New Years List.” Yes, it’s May 2011, but back in December, feeling both rested (just back from the first of those aforementioned vacations) and nostalgic for the turn of the year annual recap, I wrote out a revised attempt at my annual New Years Recap gush timed perfectly for post, and albeit in a shortened, tighter, revised take on the list, posted it on another blog. Less fluff. It was delivered being more stuffed with introspective, and carefully crafted thoughtful replies — I would argue — but delivered nonetheless. I backdated it, but noted atop the list a brief explanation of the history.
And there’s still so much. And so much I’ve already forgotten. Dust, as some might say, in the wind.
This will probably be the last of the ‘retrospective regret’ posts. I’ve given myself this twenty-four hour window to do this thing I just called overcompensating. Twenty-four hours to catch up on a year of missed musings. Twenty-four hours for an unapologetic gush of this-is-why-I-changed-my-mind blurts of text before it’s time to move on with the much less meta postings. Twenty-four hours before I return to the regular musings of life, the universe, and everything.
It will pepper throughout, of course, this missed history. But that’s another matter.
But, as a final — official — word on the topic I wanted to share one last reason. I might even call it the metaphorical straw that broke the metaphorical back of the metaphorical camel: in other words, what tipped the balance on my flip-flopped decision to resurrect this blog? See, I’d been thinking about it for a while now. Pondering. I was supposing that it having been a year or more after the events that tipped the balance the other direction — thoughts cooled, circumstances changes, perspective bought and paid for — minds might be changed. And by chance, my Facebook feed prompted me up the motivation: a friend linked to a posthumously published posting of a west coast Canadian blogger, the short essay called the last post. If the link still exists when you read this, I encourage you to click over and read it for yourselves. A blogger — a dad, husband, artist, musician, etc — just a few years older than myself, who’s blog I’d unfortunately never read until after he died of cancer a few days prior to this very post, the one you are reading now, wrote a beautiful goodbye to his readers and everyone he loved, and asked that it be published after he died. It was. And like all amazing and purposeful messages, it touched a lot more people than he probably ever intended, and went viral on the net. Which is where I came in: as yet another tourist to his concluded life. And, perhaps like had happened to others too, the message, literal and sub textual, got to me. His perspective in the end was not so much different from my perspective, all of creatively, expressively, and ideologically: and in the end his words hearkened to my own nuanced feelings on the topic of both the risk and responsibility of keeping a blog or any public writing, and the reasons for assuming such risks and responsibilities. It hinted at a purpose in a life that might not be measurable in much more than the wake one creates traveling through it. And I noted that I’d been doing little more than trolling in that respect, though that was never my intention, never something I wanted to have happen, and never a responsibility I wanted to forsake because of fear or feigned offense. It made me think it might be time to pick up those oars — to extend my boating metaphor just one inch further — and test them back in the waters of this digital life I’ve cherished so much, and missed even more.
A few minutes later I flipped the switch back on for this space, and wrote that first reloaded post. And the rest? Read on, I guess…
We had eleven kids. Eleven. So now I have this dangerous bowl of chocolate bars just sitting there patiently in the cupboard waiting for some moment of weakened willpower. I blame the weather. Not for my weak willpower, but only for the lack of children at the door.
Now that November has finally rolled around and (yes) I round that last stretch towards thirty-ness, I figure it’s time to weigh in with some excuses. Thus:
Brad’s top ten reasons why haven’t I written lately…
10. Those Catan Tiles. Why write when I can paint? And, yes. They are nearly at a playable state. Far from done, but maybe playable.
9. Winter. Did I mention that owning a house has created tonnes of work, especially when the seasons change?
8. Couch. Yes, the new couch arrived a little more than a week ago, and who wants to sit in an office chair writing blogs when there is a big couch to collapse into?
7. Work. Because it factors in there a little bit and when you have a busy day at work, you don’t feel like having a busy night at home.
6. Caffeine. Or lack thereof. I’m holding it accountable. Too bad, coffee-monster.
5. New Computer. Install this, install that. Can anyone say Duo Core? And yes, I did get Linux running.
4. Tai Chi. Not strictly, but since I think I’ve officially started that again it counts as a deterrent to blogness.
3. Sick. First Karin, then me. It kinda kills the motivation.
2. Class. Did I mention my midterm is tonight? Midterm! You’d think I was back in school or something. Oh, that’s right…
1. Fiction. Not blogs, but writing. Not sharable, yet, but writing.
Here’s the deal: In celebration of this weekend’s anticipated HOT turkey, I’ve decided to go COLD turkey on the coffee for a while. Don’t ask why. It’s just one of those things that somehow I’ve decided would be good for me.
Caffeine is the most commonly used mood-altering drug in the world. Caffeine is found in numerous plants, the most widely consumed being coffee, tea, cola nut, cocao pod, guarana, and matÃƒÂ©. It is estimated that in North America between 80 and 90 percent of adults and children habitually consume caffeine. About 15% of the general population report having stopped caffeine use completely, citing concern about health and unpleasant side effects.
Actually, I’m going to link the exact reason to indulgences. I’ve tried to keep my own indulgences in check and within something resembling a controlled state — with varying levels of success and consquence — for a while now, in fact. It’s not about excluding pleasantries from one’s life. It’s about measuring and making sure there is no OVER indulgence. Coffee has been an indulgence — at least in terms of money, time, and (gradually) dependence.
So, in leiu of coffee (retroactively) I’m turning back to the old standby: technology.
Karin and I signed up for a (second, shared plan) cell phone. I’ve been shy of that for a while, but the excuses to HAVE one were gradually out-weighing the reasons NOT TO HAVE one. The scale tipped long enough to sign up, and thus, as of Wednesday I’m a cell-phone user.
And being as that in the eyes of someone who really doesn’t NEED one (but it will sure be useful) a cell phone is a bit of an indulgence, something had to go: thus, until a better alternative is arranged — if ever — coffee-drinking-brad is on sabatacle. It’s been about 24 hours, and my head is starting to ache.