Sunday, July 16, 2006

The State of the Blog 

Those that know me well, know that I don’t set great store by anniversaries of any kind, so when a couple of weeks ago this blog limped into its fourth year I didn’t consider it worth mentioning. But for once the cycle of the seasons seems to mirror another cycle – that of a path repeatedly retrodden, yet without resulting in any forward motion from A to B – and so an anniversary is as good a time as any to stop, step outside the cycle, and take a look at it.

I spoke of dreams the other day, or rather I quoted some of Paulo Coelho’s words on the subject. I’d been mulling over dreams I’d had in the early days of this blog, and it gave me quite a jolt to realise how completely I’ve given up on so many dreams. Although I’m not totally convinced that the ugly, frightening picture painted by Coelho’s words represents the inevitable destination of the road of abandoned dreams, nevertheless I can believe only too easily how that pattern of which he talks grows and feeds on itself; how abandonment turns to rejection, then cynicism, then anger, then an emotional violence against self and against anyone who represents either the dream itself or its nemesis. I feel future echoes of that state; glimpses in the here and now of the person I might become – or am becoming – if, or when, I leave those dreams to die and become cankerous in their rot and decay.

I’m talking in the abstract. What are they, these dreams? And what happened to them?

Three years ago I professed a keen interest in people and organisations, in exploring how, instead of being in conflict, personal goals of growth and development could harmonise with goals of organisational success, so that instead of people being the servants of the organisations, organisations would truly serve the deepest needs of the people. I believed – and still do – that there is tremendous potential to foster a modus operandi whereby deep, powerful connection between human souls shifts engagement, effectiveness and personal fulfilment onto another plane, beyond mere business success – although business success would be a by-product - to a paradigm where the good of one and the good of all amount to the same thing.

Utopian? Like I said, it was a dream. Anyway, back at the plot… I encountered a number of bloggers who seemed to share something similar, each expressing an individual hope which had parallels with my own. People like Jon, and Euan, and Dave, and Chris and Michael and Dan. I dreamed of becoming involved, making connections, expanding my limited knowledge, enjoying the feeling of belonging in a community of shared values, shared purpose – and for a while, that’s exactly what I did; I made connections, began to join in. But somehow that engagement seems to have largely fizzled out.

“Seems to have…” – what a disconnected, dispassionate way of putting it! What happened to my excitement, my enthusiasm, my sense of anticipation as I rushed downstairs in the morning to see what gems the blogosphere had thrown up overnight?

Perhaps it was this: I had a sense of direction, but no clear purpose, no tangible goal. The road seemed attractive, but I had no idea where it was heading and no clear desire to get to anywhere in particular. I thought that was okay – just go with the flow, do what feels right at the time, and “the universe” will reveal the next step along the path. I didn’t need to know where that path was headed, I just needed to be open to recognise the next step along the way. Keep moving forward, and each step will build upon the last – but build into what? Truth was, I had no sense of purpose, no vision, no goal, no specifics with which I could anchor this vague sense of… - of what? Even now, it’s hard to put a name to whatever it was that I was hoping for.

As I became more involved in all things bloggy, I found other dreams too. I found delight and pleasure in making connections with people who shared common elements of experience – hopes, fears, beliefs, values, a sense of wonderment at the natural world; these connections became for a time more real, more powerful than any in my “real world”. But that too has largely fizzled out. Many of those to whom I felt closest have since stopped blogging; others blog now only occasionally, and for whatever reason I haven’t made the effort to forge new relationships or to generate the kinds of conversation that open up possibilities for connection.

“For whatever reason…” The $64,000 question – why? It’s been in my hands all along; I can’t blame anyone or anything for this drift away, this increasing self-imposed isolation.

I could list plenty of other dreams that I’ve let sink into oblivion; castles in the air which never became rooted and grounded in anything concrete; seeds that germinated but were starved of nourishment and failed to grow (he said, mixing his metaphors with gay abandon). There was my counselling journey, which I cut short abruptly for no good reason (other than the expense) and my hope to be able to share those counselling experiences in some way that might prove helpful to someone, somewhere; there was the totally unexpected pleasure I found in writing; there were hopes to develop as a photographer (before long that will cease to be a pun). I’ve said many times how much I love hills and mountain and wild unspoiled places, yet even here I’ve set possibility aside. The year more than half gone and so far only one brief weekend trip and no more planned outside the worlds of the city and suburbia.

I don’t mean that in a “poor me” way – I’m just setting it all down in black and white so that I can stand back from it all, look at it, and try and understand what’s going on. Why would I allow those dreams to fade?

I had no conclusion in mind to this piece – I just thought I’d take a look back at three years of blogging and see where that retrospective took me. But perhaps there is a conclusion – a lesson – after all. Dreams, unless they become grounded in reality somehow, will stay forever as dreams, and like their nocturnal variant will fade into nothingness on contact with the hard unavoidable realities which the daylight brings. Dreams on their own are insubstantial – they cannot be anything else; by their very nature they have no tangible form, no substance; they’re ephemeral, ghost-like and can’t be grasped directly by hands of flesh and blood. They need to come down to earth, to take tangible form, to find concrete representation – to transform into real tasks and actions.

These tasks and actions aren’t the dream, but they’re shadows cast by the dream, like images projected into a flat two-dimensional plane from something that exists beyond that simple 2D world.

Perhaps that’s it; perhaps I’ve lost sight of that dimension which exists beyond the flat, linear, deterministic, cause-and-effect world of my conventional senses; I’ve stopped being able to see the extra dimensions of the world of dreams, stopped being able to see how hopes which find their origin in a paradigm beyond this world of sight and sound and touch can yet be projected onto this tangible world of substance.

Perhaps that’s the skill possessed by those who know how to make their dreams come true – they have an ability to recognise and hold firm those projections of their dreams onto this flat world of daily existence, and in so doing they create bridges between the banal and the sublime.

I’ve run out of time; this’ll have to end here for now. But there are ideas this soliloquy has surfaced which may be worth exploring further. Another day…

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