Friday, April 14, 2006

Temporary drought or climate change? 

I’ve been wondering lately, in my more defeatist moments, whether blogging and the enhanced human interaction which goes with it might be just a temporary blip in the overall flow of my life; an aberration in an otherwise consistent pattern.

I always used to be a quiet, introspective, reticent individual – aloof even, or apparently so. Friendly and open, in a shy sort of way, but only up to a point. Then for a while I opened up a little more, both outwardly here and inwardly to myself. But it seems I’ve gradually drifted back into the old habits of detachment. Reverted to type.

The first few months of blogging were a revelation. To begin with, I’d shyly stutter out a brief one-thought post whilst marvelling at the beautifully crafted prose, the compelling thought structures, the acerbic wit I’d encounter elsewhere. Then, as I grew more comfortable with recognising and expressing what was going on within me, I found – seemingly from nowhere – a desire, and even the beginnings of an ability, to give a clearer voice to my own experiences and feelings.

In a way, it was a time of happy conjunction of circumstances. Although I used to (and still do) bitch and whine about my job, the fact remains that my duties at the time were relatively light, owing largely to having a manager who couldn’t or wouldn’t delegate; I could easily fulfil everything that was expected of me in about half of my working hours, and so much of what appeared here at that time was either written or had its genesis during those relatively idle hours at work.

All the same, I remained a mostly conscientious soul and couldn’t escape the feelings of guilt engendered by this way of time-balancing, which often resulted in a short term cycling of priorities between blogging and working. So it wasn’t long before I started to feel a conflict between these two; odd really, since many of the bloggers whose ideas drew me in to blogging were engaged in dialogue about organisational life. This conflict wasn’t just in the matter of how I spent my time; more and more I felt that I was being a different person in these two roles, as the thinking and writing processes, together with the incisive dialogue that occurs often in blog comments yet rarely in conversation, awoke something in me that had lain dormant for a long, long time.

Were I to believe that something other than chance governed the ebb and flow of life, then I might wonder at the coincidence that led me into blogging at just the period of my life when I had the time and energy to explore it. Things have changed now though; both of those commodities are once again mostly consumed by the non-negotiable elements of living, and it’s becoming harder and harder to engage with the world of delights beyond this computer screen which faces me. The swings between blogging and working that used to occur on a daily or weekly cycle seem to have broadened into cycles of months. Mostly long weeks with little to say, then an occasional burst of activity, followed by more weeks and months of day-follows-day routine. It’s a pattern I can see continuing into the distance, with the dry spells getting longer and the showers of refreshing thoughts diminishing in intensity until all that’s left here is a parched desert with just a few stunted shrubs dotted about a featureless landscape. Climate change hits this corner of the blogosphere.

I’ll admit that some of that lack of engagement is my own fault. Several months ago, as a time saving mechanism, I started using Google’s RSS reader to track favourite blogs. Unfortunately, not everyone has an RSS feed and so I became an even more infrequent visitor to those sites that don’t. And even with those that do, reading a post in a reader seems more impersonal, a step removed from actually reading the blog. It’s like the difference between a phone call and meeting someone face to face; in a sense, the blog page is your face in this online world.

Furthermore, for reasons I don’t understand, I’ve noticed that I’ve become reticent about leaving comments. Perhaps because I haven’t been paying enough attention to what people have been writing? Having dropped out of the habit, I sometimes feel now like a stranger intruding on a group of close friends. Crazy, I know, but there it is.

I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a new blog as a means of rejuvenation; maybe under a pseudonym so that I could post about things that I have to keep silent about here. When I quit counselling last September, I did actually create a new anonymous blog with the intention of using it as personal therapy space and made a couple of posts, but abandoned it because splitting my blog persona in two seemed a retrograde step.

“Is all this just a temporary blip?” I said. It doesn’t take an Einstein to point out that the choice is entirely mine. If I want things to change, then I have to do something about it.

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