Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Statement of intent

During my recent trip to the United States I had a friend lament the fact I don't really blog anymore. And when I say "lament" what I mean, of course, is "make a passing comment about." My friend made a passing comment about the fact I don't really blog anymore.

"I follow your Twitter a bit," he said. "But I don't really know what you're up to these days."

In hindsight, this was probably more a means of getting conversation flowing -- something that is always a little difficult in the first minutes of meeting up with people you haven't seen in 2.5 years -- rather than any sort of suggestion that I spend more time talking about myself on the internet. But I've chosen to interpret his comment as the latter, so here I am.


Promising myself that I am going to blog more. 

I do this sort of thing every quarter year or so, because as I get older life seems to slip by a little more quickly. Without any good documentation of said life I start to feel it is all pretty meaningless, that I have fallen into an inescapable malaise. I get really grumpy and start to flop around like a fainting waif in an Edward Gorey illustration, feeling my entire existence has been a tremendous waste of resources.

To some extent, I can't really argue it hasn't been. But it is very challenging to live under such circumstances. Maybe (probably), the truth is that I am incalculably insignificant in the grand schemes of history and space, but I need to dupe myself into thinking otherwise if I want to live without a depression so crushing it hurts to breathe.

That, after all, was the point of the vlogging (video blogging) thing I used to do. For a year, I recorded every day of my life and put it on the interwebs. It turned out to be a pretty good year to keep track of because within that year my relationship with Jenn blossomed and I eventually proposed -- an action I would list first and foremost if challenged to explain why mine was a life worth living. You'll note, however, the absence of a link to said vlogs. I've since taken them offline.

I did this at the behest of my wife because she was concerned, firstly, that one or two of our friends weren't terribly happy with how they appeared in the vlogs, and secondly, that things she said might somehow be misinterpreted in that ridiculous way that managerial types almost always misinterpret things and wind up having a negative effect on her professional aspirations. And I get that; I'm 98-percent sure that the simple existence of my blog once killed my chance at getting a job (a)

Indeed, one of the reasons that I fell out of blogging was that I didn't like that strange mix of frustration/embarrassment/awkwardness that comes when an email from a friend would show up in my inbox saying: "Hey, I really don't want to infringe on your creative spirit, etcetera, etcetera, but could you please not talk about me ever?"

I am an open-source kind of guy. Not everyone else is.

And not everyone wants to be a character in a story. That's another reason I fell out of blogging, and vlogging. Many moons ago, this blog was far more active, and I couldn't help noticing that people sometimes responded to it as if it were a long-running narrative. Obviously, this had a lot to do with my writing style, and my habit at the time of giving people nicknames. For example "the child bride."

Sometimes -- especially in Wales -- I could sense an oh-so-slight disappointment from people who read the blog upon meeting Rachel, because she wasn't the thing they had created in their head. What I was writing  on my blog accidentally encouraged people to engage in character creation for the people in my life. I mean, remember this? The music in that clip is added, and it's all slowed down, but the video is the same as was used by the BBC. The child bride reaction shot is really just video of her waiting to do a mic check several hours after I met Sian Lloyd.

Sometimes I think that Rachel's discomfort at being perceived as a character was one of the (many) things that induced her to leave. My unwillingness to put anyone else in that situation, to turn loved ones into cast members on The Chris Show, is why I'm always very uncomfortable even mentioning Jenn. She's not a character; she's not a creation of my imagination; she's not a person playing a role. She's my wife. I love her and think she's awesome, but perhaps it's best if I generally keep that to myself. 

The twisting up of trying to determine what is and isn't acceptable for public consumption -- what's a notable event and what's just an anecdote that portrays someone in an inaccurate light -- can take a lot of steam out of a guy's desire to blog or vlog or even journal. Perhaps this is why Charles Dickens had all his diaries burned upon his death.

But, see, I like doing those things. I like being able to look back and show myself that I am not as pathetic as I feel. I am the type of person who struggles to see beyond the immediate. I too easily fall into the line of thinking that all days lead in linear fashion to the point I'm at. If the point I'm at isn't very good, that means that none of the points leading to it were all that good, either. So, I look out the window and see that none of the cars on the street are mine, because I don't own one -- I can't afford one -- and that makes me sad. The various acts of my 38 years have not even accrued to the point that I can buy a car. I become miserable and at times downright suicidal because I can only see what's right in front of me (or, rather, what isn't in front of me); I can't see all the days that end in Y.

Documenting my life gives me something to fight that with. It is a hard fight sometimes, but at least it's something. I can counter a materialistic complaint about the lack of a car with: "OK, that's true. But you do have a motorcycle, which you earned through writing skill alone, and which took you up to Scotland recently (b)."

Or even when it's not some big adventure. Just the reminder that I was alive on such and such day. That the immediate is not the whole.

Finding the balance -- and within that/despite that, maintaining any sort momentum -- is the challenge, though. 

I told my friend I would try to start blogging more often. Maybe I will...


(a) I am consoled by the fact the company went bankrupt only a few weeks later, so I would have had to get a different job anyway.

(b) Documented in four parts on my motorcycle blog: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4.

1 comment:

Steve Johnson said...

I really enjoy reading your writing, Chris. I like reading what goes into someone's head. But I think it's really the comments from others that makes blogging so rewarding. That is, its not so much putting your feelings out, as it is getting external input.