Just Doing It

I don’t know what else to title this post. Back in the early days of blogging, people started blogs as social interaction. If the blog had a steady readership, the author would feel a need to explain any gap in posting.

Then, other writers started to mock the self-importance of those posts. Who cares why you aren’t posting? Either do it or don’t.

So I tried to avoid that habit. And while this post may sound a bit like an explanation of why I haven’t posted (and maybe get picked up by Sorry I Haven’t Posted, which, um, hasn’t posted in three years), I’m also simply trying to break the mental tomb I seemed to have sealed myself into. Well, that suggests action. It’s more like mental rigor mortis.

When I first began blogging in 2002, I updated often and at length. I was engaged this way for many years. I also posted photos of my artwork and crafts, and my poetry. When my daughter was born, I wrote about my experiences with her.

And then Facebook came on the scene. Most of my social group (online and off) migrated to using that, and I started to as well. And when Claire turned four, I decided it was time to back off on writing publicly about her in detail, and that gutted my motivation to write. I’d still post about crafts we did, and other activities, but eventually I moved it all to Facebook.

In the past year, when I sit down to write here, I fumble. I grope for something to say. I might have a wisp of inspiration, yet some part of me whispers that it’s nothing new, it’s just more noise in the world. Why bother?

And yet. Writing is how I sort myself out. How have I become so disinterested in what’s going on? One voice in me says, “It’s all ego driven.” My practice is to engage fully in the moment, with the world I inhabit and the tasks I complete. I have made a judgment that to be Buddhist requires forsaking the mind. I’ve projected that judgment onto my teacher (not that I’ve told her). In my head, Maezen says this, even though she’s never uttered those words.

Another voice in me calls out, reminding me of other reasons to write. In childhood I felt a deep yearning to know more about my parents, about their childhood experiences, about what they thought of life and current events. Now, as a parent, I understand the difficulty of dredging up memories with specifics to make a good story. Claire often asks me, “Tell me a story about your childhood,” and I simply don’t have access to the memories. Writing is a pathway into them.

I’ve also a strong desire to be known, seen, heard since childhood. I want my child to know about me, if she is interested when she is older. So there is some value in writing. I’ve approached my blog as a kind of commonplace book, where one might read and see what piqued my interest. But as I read Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, I am tantalized by the idea of a Codex Vitae. What is that, you ask? In the novel…

The Codex Vitae is something that special members of this fellowship “earn” the right to create, after rising up in the ranks. When written, it’s submitted to the fellowship, approved, and encrypted. 3 copies are made of the book, 1 goes to the central library, and 2 others go to branch libraries in other parts of the world. The key to the encryption is only given to 1 person, and it remains a secret until the writer’s death.

–Buster Benson, The Way of the Duck

He thought this was a great idea, and so do I. What if I created my own book of knowledge? A blog is a living book. And perhaps no one will read it, or only a few. My daughter might have no interest. After all, it’s a pretty large resource already, having existed for 12 years. In the end, I’ll die and this blog will go someday, but isn’t there some value in scribing my journey?

The truth is, I miss myself. For now, I will close with a poem that captures my hope:

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

–Derek Walcott

I want to give a nod to two long-term bloggers who in the past week have given me encouragement to try again (even if they don’t know it): Whiskey River and Euan Semple.

And a link to an article from a blog titled Thought Catalog about how and why to keep a commonplace book.


Journey / 2011

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