As I get older I have trouble remembering significant dates. I haven’t forgotten my wife’s birthday yet, or our wedding anniversary, but lesser events I am more likely to be hazy on. Such as the start date for this blog.
I had to look it up, and it looks like it started August 30, 2014, two years ago today. If you had asked me I would have told you it was September 1. What I can tell you is that this is my 700th post, so allow me to be a little self-indulgent today.
Thank you for being with me on this journey, on taking time to read the sometimes very random thoughts that have escaped my head over the past couple of years. Some days I just post pictures, but not most days. I think that means I have written more than 300,000 words in this space. That would be three novels if I was writing fiction. Funny thing is, I have some half-written posts that are as old as the blog; I just haven’t gotten around to finishing them yet.
I said last year that failing to plan means you are planning to fail, that if you don’t have an idea how to accomplish your goals you are unlikely to do so. Good thing I didn’t set any goals for this space, so I have no regrets. Actually, that’s not quite true, I did have goals: I want to be entertaining, and thought provoking. Some days I have succeeded.
The lack of planning means that some things have just happened by chance. The layout of the page was the first one WordPress offered to me, so I took it. I didn’t even know it was pink until my daughter mentioned that a month later. My eyes don’t always see the colours others do. Maybe it is time to consider other options and change the look a bit, if only to see if anyone notices. I also want to put up some links to the blogs I enjoy.
So what did I have to say on August 30, 2014?
Three years ago I decided to start a blog. Several people had told me that it was something I should do, that my thoughts, expressed in emails or conversation, needed to be shared with a wider audience. I wasn’t so certain, but decided that it was not my place to argue with those around me. So I started a blog, posted one piece, and didn’t tell anyone. Then I stopped.
The timing wasn’t right. I didn’t want the responsibility of writing to deadline and not being paid for it. I do after all write for a living. I had other priorities. I didn’t want to feel I had to write any more than was required for school and work. So I left it at that.
This past summer I traveled to six different countries in as many weeks. Some of my experiences were thought provoking. I jotted some notes down on my phone, originally meant as lengthy captions for the pictures I was going to post on Facebook when I returned to Canada. However I soon realized the “captions” were taking on a life of their own. I am still working through exactly how I feel about some of the things I witnessed. The First World War battlefield, for example, that inspires feelings of horror at the human waste, and awe at the spirit of willing sacrifice. Some places I visited were just fun, but I probably won’t write about those.
To post these thought for others to see, to make them a dialogue, seems both appealing and a bit frightening. So I have resurrected this blog to tell the tale of “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” If reaction is positive I will keep it going with other random observations (which indeed I may intersperse with the summertime commentary).
In the 1960s American pop artist Andy Warhol suggested that at some point in the future everyone would become famous, for 15 minutes anyway. That prophetic observation may have been one reason I have been reluctant to make my thoughts available. It seems everyone has a blog. The few who don’t blog have a reality TV show, which seems worse to me. (Full disclosure: my brother has been known to blog, but though his reality TV show was only six episodes). And, if we are being honest, most of the words being placed for public consumption would have been better left in the authors’ dictionaries. Who am I to say that my pearls of wisdom are really worth reading?
One of my summer rituals is two weeks at the beach in Maine. I don’t watch television at home, but in Maine I try and get caught up what I may have missed in the previous 50 weeks. Call it an annual sociology project, since I really am not interested in what’s being broadcast. I assume somebody must watch or they wouldn’t continue to make the shows, but apparently all that is broadcast anymore are variants on fighting chefs or fighting siblings, so-called reality television. Cheap to produce I guess, but just a perverted form of narcissism. Which leaves me concerned that making my thoughts public in this sort of forum is both pretentious and narcissistic.
Perhaps when I have exhausted the tales of my summer of 2014 I will vanish once more into the virtual wallpaper. Until then I will do my best to be both entertaining and thought provoking. Hopefully my best will be good enough. Feel free to respond. Without your input this becomes just the ramblings of someone who perhaps should have been told long ago to shut up (and if you do want me to shut up, please be polite when you are telling me that).
For the next few weeks you can expect to hear all about “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” I had a great time; I hope you do as well.
On the first anniversary of the blog I added these thoughts:
In the summer of 2014 my wife and I spent a month in Europe, celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. We had a great trip, but more than that, were things about the trip I really wanted to share with our friends.
There was the caged grave in East Mersea, the overblown presidential palace in Bucharest, the graves of Flanders, the view from a German pillbox at Juno Beach and so much more. I decided I should write down the thoughts, and make them available not just to my immediate circle but to anyone interested. Thus a blog was born.
Because a lot of my early posts were anchored around that trip, a lot of people I think viewed it as a travel blog. I see it as more about life, with travel a part of that. Some thoughts truly have been random, whether about that day’s commuter woes or strange signs I have run across.
A year of posts, 350 or so, and I still see this as essentially a random project. I know that what I should have been doing was promoting this blog every chance I get. I subscribe to a couple of other blogs, and I have seen and read about what you need to do to have a successful blog. I haven’t been doing that. I don’t know if I should. I know some people forward these posts, or sometimes repost them to Facebook, and I am appreciative of that. I am also thankful to those who have taken time to comment on posts that have interested them.
I am learning things through this process. Foremost perhaps is that there is no time that is unproductive. Most of my posts have been written on my cell phone on public transit while traveling to and from work. So far I have managed not to get so engrossed that I miss my stop, but it has almost happened a couple of times.
I have also learned that there is always something to write about, something to comment on. I at times have a shortage of time, but no shortage of ideas. Right now I probably have 30 or so posts on my phone that I have started but not yet finished. Some are travel pieces, some are about family or politics, and others are just random thoughts. Some of those you will never see – they may be time sensitive or I decide just not interesting enough. Others, especially the travel pieces, will eventually show up here. I don’t think I’ve posted the piece yet about having tea in the ruins of Saddam Hussein’s palace.
On January 1 of this year I remember saying that I was planning on scaling back a bit, on not posting every day. Yet it seems that most days there is something to publish, even if it is only an amusing picture.
Thank you for joining me on this journey so far, whether you have only been reading these random thoughts for a couple of days or whether you have been here from the beginning. I still really don’t have a plan for what comes next here. Some ideas yes, but they aren’t yet a plan. Before I come up with a plan, I should probably think about what I am going to post tomorrow.
I am still enjoying working through the ideas and issues that show up in this space. If you’ve read this far (much longer than my usual post) I can only assume you must enjoy it too. I seem to recall that on New Year’s Day I promised a reader survey. I think that is coming soon if I can figure out how to set it up. I get your feedback daily through comments and the “like” button, but I am curious what the reaction will be to a reader survey.
Thank you again for joining me on this voyage. I know today’s post has been the longest yet, but I wanted to let you know I was still having fun – and I hope you are too.