A Year-Long Cycle

5 Apr

I’ve had this blog for a year now. I’ve spilled out 138 posts and somewhere in the neighborhood of 200,000 words. I’ve shared my thoughts on a year’s worth of political meetings, the past and present of a hockey team, broader sports issues, scattered-but-somehow-ultimately-related philosophical prompts, dead Greek people, and a handful of other bits of randomness. They all have audiences of varying sizes, and a committed core reads all three. Thanks, readers, no matter what draws you here.

The honest truth is that I don’t care much about the audience size. I write what I want to write, and do this as a fun outlet for lots of thoughts. I’m not here to launch some sort of journalism career, and while I don’t mean to belittle everyone who writes for local papers or blogs, I don’t exactly want to turn into the sort of person who jumps up and down on his weekly soapbox in the Reader Weekly. I’ve always written a lot and will continue to write a lot, but I don’t want my writing to become my sole public persona. This is something I do for fun, no matter who reads. And if I ever stop having fun and turn into some local crank or even simply find that I’m just blogging for the sake of blogging and nothing more, I’m done.

Still, it is never any fun to yell at empty rooms, and writing for an audience forces a bit more refinement than when writing for oneself. The result is almost always more pleasant, with none of the earnest moaning and far less blathering jargon than in some earlier stuff. Presentation matters. I won’t bore readers with too much self-absorption, but that’s just some of what I’ve learned, or had reinforced, by doing this. I’m glad I’m doing it, and I take pride in the handful of cases where this blog has made a modest impression or led to connections beyond a computer screen. The internet is often a poor substitute for live interaction, but at its best it can be an excellent extension of life when face-to-face contact isn’t practical, and I’m also happy to cover things—political meetings, hockey games—that other media may not have the time to cover, or at least not in great detail due to time and space constraints. I’d like to think I’ve found a nice little niche, or perhaps a series of semi-related niches.

Most importantly, though, this allows for reflection that isn’t always possible in the midst of a spirited conversation. I like being able to step back, think a little bit, and put things together slowly, without rushing to meet a deadline. That has always been the goal here: patient reflection instead of a rush to judgment. While I make no claim to objectivity, I really do try to look at things from every possible angle, and only move to judge when I’m confident I understand what’s going on. I choose my battles carefully and prefer to play with things from a distance—and keeping that distance is usually a good way of reminding oneself what really matters in the grand scheme of things.

But, of course, even that balance needs a counterbalance: a life out in the land of detachment and reflection can get pretty lonely and boring. Aside from the obvious financial difficulties, that’s another reason why I don’t really aspire to a writing career; I don’t enjoy the person I become when I spend too much time in that world. I see it as a necessary complement to a life oriented around the very real dramas in life, both great and small. So it’s time to wrap up this self-conscious post, toast to another year, and head out there and enjoy what (finally!) looks like a fine spring evening in Duluth.

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