Tuesday, July 10, 2007

4th July 2003 

I almost didn’t notice. 4th July was the anniversary of this blog. I can remember sitting right here, wondering what I was going to call this creation; wondering even more what I was going to put in it. Amazingly, 1467 days, 686 posts and about 2580 comments later, it’s still going. I might almost say still going strong, in spite of my occasional threats to abandon it. But honestly, I don’t see myself following those threats through, so just ignore them when they come. I just couldn’t imagine life without blogging.

Visits here are currently running at about 50 a day, most of which are Google image searches. Maybe one in five come here as a result of the words, and half of those probably didn’t find what they were looking for – anyone who looks at their referrer logs will know the weird and wonderful searches that mysteriously throw up links to blogs in the results. So that leaves about 5 genuine readers a day. Sounds about right, given that not all readers visit every day. Mind, I’m not complaining. Averaging a post every other day and nearly four comments per post over that time ain’t bad at all.

Some things though don’t lend themselves so readily to statistics, or go way beyond mere numbers. How about friendships gained? Insights won? Laughter and tears shared? Hands and hearts extended in caring and support and love? Connections made with like-minded souls around the globe? None of those show up in the Sitemeter Statcounter stats.

There are a few changes in this blog, or rather in its author, which I can chart over these last four years.

For one thing, I’ve gone through a complete cycle of self-examination. To begin with, posts were short and simple, rarely more than one idea in a short paragraph. Then I began to discover the joys of self-expression through writing; yet that discovery led also to frustration as Andy-the-writer fought for time and attention with Andy-the-worker (and indeed all the other Andys). That was what initially caused me to go into counselling, trying to find a balance between all these different Andys. For 18 months or so, my exploration of self and the relationships of that self with the world and with others was the subject of quite a few posts here. At one time, I even considered writing a book – or perhaps a series of magazine articles - about counselling from the client’s perspective. But I ended the counselling rather abruptly, and probably prematurely, nearly two years ago. It was expensive, and forthcoming changes in my work patterns were going to make it hard to continue; moreover, I fell out with my counsellor over a relatively trivial matter. We made up, and learned from the experience, but somewhere some trust had been lost.

In the two years since then, I don’t think I’ve found the same degree of self-awareness as I experienced during that time, or indeed the same empathic awareness of others, and I think that’s reflected both in my posts here and in the comments I leave on others’ blogs. At that time, I tried to mirror the kind of support and encouragement which I was receiving myself; nowadays I know I’ve become more reticent I that respect, finding it harder to find the right words or indeed to identify the full nature of the feelings that want to drive the words.

I said I’d gone through a complete cycle. In some ways, this blog seems to be returning to the form with which it started, looking very like those first pre-counselling six months. Something certainly seems to have come full circle, but it hasn’t altogether returned to the starting point; there have been other changes too.

Haltingly, with advances and retreats, I’ve come to recognise that I both enjoy writing (when I’m sufficiently relaxed not to feel that the process has to be rushed – a rare occurrence at the moment!), and – on a good day – may even have some modest ability at it. Not that you’d think either of those on the basis of recent months’ postings. But looking back over the whole span of the last four years, overall something has gone up a notch. Something may have completed a circuit, but it’s a circuit of a spiral – the end point is higher than the starting point. There’s been progress.

But those two – the cycle of growing and diminishing self-awareness, and the growing recognition of the way in which writing has become (or always was?) part of me – aren’t the whole story.

When I began blogging, I had time on my hands. A job where I could easily fulfil all that was required of me – and often more - in not much more than half of my working hours. I had reading time, thinking time and writing time in relative abundance – and often available in my most part of the day, the first half of the morning. But that arrangement wasn’t doing my self-respect any good. I knew I was in effect cheating my employer, even though the cause of the situation was a boss who was unable to delegate; there was plenty I could be doing, but he refused to let go of it. So it was that two years ago, at the same time I quit counselling, I also deliberately made a greater commitment to work, coinciding with a major restructure and change in my responsibilities. The irony of course was that just as my acknowledgement of a desire to write was ramping up, the time and energy available to commit to it was ramping down.

Not a lot seems to have happened here in the two years since. The first circuit of the self-awareness spiral hasn’t been followed by a second, and those two opposing aspects of self – writer and worker – continue to be held in tension, in an uneasy balance. I have no idea how these might change going forwards, but I have an inkling that some sort of change is in the air, something ignited by a spark from that recent bloggers meeting. I make no promise about what or when – or even whether – but I sense a shift.

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