Saturday, November 7, 2020

Why I Don't Blog

Wait, that's a silly statement, 'why I don't blog.' Isn't that what I'm doing right now? 

People often comment how "cute" my rig is; my tiny house on wheels. Sometimes they apologize for calling a guy's house cute. Well, yes it's mostly women who like it. And then when they learn how many times I've crisscrossed the country I tend to hear "you should blog!" 

But the trouble is I don't want to always be experiencing what I'm doing while having in mind the thought of writing about it. Perhaps that just makes me too lazy to be a writer. But, for example, the day before yesterday I decided to try the mountain bike trails here. 

I'd tentatively felt them out on foot when there was snow on the ground, and pretty much assumed that bikers would leave the trails alone; that they'd grown mushy. But they didn't and so I made a tentative start along the long, and what I would find to be twisty and root-filled trail which circumnavigates the park. 

Now I cut my teeth on mountain bike trails in Oregon, which might be among the best anywhere, including some really challenging climbs and slalom-style descents with genuine serious consequence for screwing up. You might say that I started with some contempt for the trails here in Western New York. 

About halfway along my seven mile ride, I realized that I would have to text my discovery to my friends and family back West. I started to compose the text in my head. I crashed. Well, not really - I'm probably stretching a point, but I was no longer in the moment of just enjoying the ride. 

About three quarters of the way along, after riding over fallen stumps helpfully equipped with log ramps by the local mountain mike club, and through rivers and up steep hills and mostly riding standing up because there are so many roots, and those roots want to grab your wheels and push them in a direction you weren't intending to go . . . I realized that I was way over my head. Too late to go back.

Then I was thinking about the trouble with thinking about what I was going to tell people about my ride, and that was when I fell. I'd grown confident enough with plank bridges, some a single plank's width, and stones arrayed to cross deeper streams and I was heading blithely across a somewhat more challenging and certainly narrower set of creek crossing stones. 

The front tire slipped off the final stone, and I found myself mostly in the water with my shoe (not a proper biking shoe) wedged between two stones such that I couldn't move it. My weight was pushing in the wrong direction, and the bike was awkwardly arranged both beneath and on top of me. It could have gone way south, but I managed to extricate myself. I departed the stream quite a bit more wobbly than I went into it. 

My legs ache still, partly from the fall, but mostly from the strain of the ride, even though I was on an e-bike. Mine has no rear suspension, so my legs were absorbing all the shocks.

I was thinking about writing friends and family, aware of the burden that would put on them. I mean everyone else  I knew out West has an easy rapport, and their texts follow a certain slant of humor. I never quite made it inside that slant, so mine are awkward, and elicit what I imagine to be twisted eyebrows and a reticence to respond. 

At least If I were blogging about all my experiences, I wouldn't be making any demands on any readers. Read it if you like. But I would be putting myself and my personality and my personal responses front and center. 

One of my two daughters is really good at doing that. She's very politic about how to present herself so that nobody has to agree or disagree or even like her. She's entertaining. The other daughter is more like me, I suppose, and doesn't like to put herself out there.

So what am I doing here? 

There was a fellow that I really liked, and who I thought  liked me, in my former work. I gave him the desk I had on my way out when my own job dissolved, and we went out for beers a few times. But most recently when I invited him out, he was very firm that he "didn't like me" but rather than he "liked my ideas."

Now sure, that was somewhat painful to hear, but isn't it what I'm aiming for here? I have little enough confidence in my likeability, with plenty of evidence in both directions, but I don't even believe that there are such things as "ideas." Among all that I write about, that might be the actual theme of my writing. 

Once people get to know me, I'm pretty confident in saying that they generally like me. But I don't get close to very many people, and when I do, I often find myself angry with them. I spend way too much time justifying the anger to myself, which must be somewhat related to what I would do as a blogger if I were always composing my next post based on my present experiences. I would be ruminating on the wrong thing.

Ultimately the anger dissipates, and mostly that's when I realize my role in the anger and why that particular person triggers it. Like it's almost inevitable. I do trigger anger in others for sure, but I also do pretty much always own up to it. I may trigger anger purposefully or not, but I know I'm owed it. 

I feel very close to those people I am close to. In each case, we are beyond anger. There is literally nothing each of us could do to trigger that abiding anger that I often nurse. Sure we can get really angry at one another, but it's in the moment and fierce and doesn't challenge the relation. 

So yes, I think that for me to say that I am writing "ideas" would be a lazy way to describe what I'm about. For me, the world "idea" descends from dangerous Platonic notions that there are disembodied and universal forms which we humans set about slowly to discover. Like a human soul, these "ideas" are permanent and eternal. 

I mean I think I have a personality, and I think most who know me would describe me as fairly unique. I find the string of experiences that I live through utterly fascinating, and often amazing. So, in some sense there may something 'eternal' about me, in that nobody else is just me. 

That doesn't distinguish me from other humans, but I don't think humans are distinguished all that much from other creatures. If we are, it is by our stories. I am not a very good story teller, except maybe sometimes around a fire.

I don't know what or how I could add to my experiences by documenting them. Writing that lasts is often separable from the personality of the writer, and often enough the writer is no-one you would really like to get to know. 

I have a really hard time seeing myself as a writer; especially as one whose works might endure. That thing that I do hope will endure would most commonly be called my ideas. I'm not sure I have a better word for them. 

As I noted the other day, I'm not really creative. If and when I do write poetry, I have no illusion or expectation that it will read as profound to anyone else, even while it sometimes will to me. Profound here meaning I really like it and want to look at it again sometime. 

So what I write about is more like a scientific principle. I want it to hold up through rigorous testing. That wouldn't make my writing eternal, though it might make what I try to write about a stepping stone toward something better than our current understanding. 

As you might imagine, I'm no great believer in progress. Sure I'm politically progressive, but that doesn't make me a utopian. I'm more a believer in evolutionary principles and think that if and when and as we direct our 'progress' we can only be fighting evolution. Evolution comes as close as I can imagine to a description of the workings of what others might call "God's" mind. 

That's how and why I might describe some of Richard Dawkins' writings as providing me a religious experience, which is, in turn, why I place irony so high on any hierarchy of potentially eternal figures.

So I just realized that a little thing I found and wanted to keep - to put aside - has now gone missing. I can't remember what I did with it. I remember putting it somewhere I would see it, and I remember seeing it, and I thought I must have put it somewhere more likely, but more likely I meant to and didn't and now it's missing. 

It's not like I'm missing something I paid good money for. It's a found object - trash - without value, but I want it. I know that it will be useful at some point in my future. I'm usually right about that. I look around me and am amazed at how much use I've made of little tidbits that I've found and hoarded. 

So while there may be great stories among my travels, those aren't what I want to hoard. They must have changed me. Such little things compose what is indelible in my mind. Sometimes slights, sometimes near accident, often what others might call miracles. I want those to be meaningful. 

I've called this my private notebook in the sky. Hiding in plain sight, almost nobody reads it (those that do are probably bots). I get precisely zero comments which attempt to be interactive, except in a phishing kind of way. Sometimes I trick myself into being flattered by what seems an honest comment.

Mostly I just keep trying for clarity. I know it doesn't seem that way, but I am very trying. I know. I am trying hardly. 

Yes indeed that's about as funny as I get. But I do really care. I really do. 

I found it! On the ground just where I’d moved the chair on which I’d placed it. I know you’d want to know. 

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