Somewhere on a shelf in a dusty cupboard is a box of my notebooks. My earliest diaries were a series of daily one or two line entries recording defining activities in barely legible writing; “played cricket”, “went to school” etc. Hardly griping reading but a chronicle of my childhood nonetheless. The first foray into journaling happened, not surprisingly while on student exchange in Japan, when the social stimulus of navigating life as an alien coincided with late adolescent consciousness. Those treasured pages carry my emerging existential angst.
Ad hoc and sometimes frequent descriptions of the view of the world from my head and heart filled the pages of different styles of notebooks for the next couple of decades. For some of those years my work required me to write newsletters and give talks, which for me was the opportunity to take some of my thinking and construe it for other people. And then, after some years the internet became common media and I found myself crafting random little online missives about the world. What seems like an eternity ago was actually only 2008. If you are so inclined, check out the first blog on this site dated January 2008. I wonder what you were doing then?
Something really important happened in my blogging when Maria and I created our yurting site. (the first proper entry was April 2009, the ones before that were added retrospectively) We genuinely didn’t care if anyone else read it. We wanted to do it as a record of our journey; if others got some giggles, insight or even inspiration from it, then that was a bonus. It gradually liberated my other blogging too. I already knew that quality content did not necessarily generate ‘audience’ and that the reverse was also true; what to me looked like pretty ordinary content seemed to be attracting lots of followers. (Which is not to suggest there is no correlation b/w popularity and quality – just that it is not a simple relationship.)
When it was released, I was deeply influenced by Oz Guiness’ 2000 book “When No One Sees: The Importance of Character in an Age of Image“. It imprinted on my psyche the belief that I am my true self when there is no audience. From a completely alternative source, Adventures in Caravanistan chronicled a young family’s encounters with interesting people on a ’round Australia pilgrimage’. One of the people they met was an intelligent and productive human being who was living a reclusive life on the southern tip of Bruny Island. I recall being dumbfounded at how this person could be at peace without an ‘audience’ for their work.
Suffice to say, blogging has been for me a way of thinking out aloud. It helps me process stuff. I need to do it for me. I am chuffed if others find it interesting, but that’s not why I do it. In recent years my posts have been haphazard, in part because I have been trying to direct my energy into another form of writing, which, to be frank, I don’t think I’m very good at. But it’s been hard to get to that.
The discipline of blogging for me, I’ve recognised, is not only about the content, it is the about the regular discipline of reflection … the process of distilling what I have seen, read or experienced and corralling it into a short digest; it is good for me. So here we go, it’s not the new year, but it is time for me to get going again.