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I launched this blog on September 16, 2018, which seems both like yesterday and a decade ago. Time is such a squishy thing, and I used to roll my eyes at all the prickly adults who told me, "time only goes faster the older you get." Now I'm one of those prickly adults who has to look back and realize that the younger me was quite the pretentious brat.
I was reading through my blogs the other day, cringing at some things I wrote and surprised by others. I had some fear around launching this blog because I wasn't sure how anyone would receive it, and it's so much easier to critique content than it is to create it. But I'm happy I overcame that fear, because writing this blog has taught me so much: discipline, what interests people, how to tell more compelling stories, how to articulate my thoughts, how to reflect, how to admit that I was wrong. Most of all though, reading through my blogs has shown me how much I've grown and changed: through recovery, through relationships, through jobs, and moves, and races. Life feels full when I look back and exciting when I look ahead. I hope your life feels that way too, despite (or maybe because of) all the hardships and heartache.
I was reading through my posts because I'm working (slowly) on a book, and I realized something sort of cool, which is that books are fixed things, with a concrete start/stop and a storyline and hopefully a lesson or two. But my blog is an evolving, growing body of work that is helpful for me but also (hopefully) for others as well. The evolution of my writing skills is a predictable reach toward mastery. How many hours I've spent typing, I'm not sure but I do not I'm not a master yet. Not even close.
The single most common question people ask me is how I find things to write about, which is thankfully an easy question to answer. The world is full of stories. Every interaction we have is a story. If you're paying attention, you'll never get bored and you'll never run out of things to write about. The times when I've felt the most resistance to writing, or when writing has felt hard, are those weeks when I put my head down and work so hard that I don't leave space for other things. Creativity requires space. It requires time to think, and it requires new experiences. That being said, sometimes we need to put our heads down and work. Work is what makes play fun, just like hunger is what makes food taste good and activity what makes rest so enticing.
But stories are everywhere, especially in places where you least expect them. The other day I was grocery shopping and a little boy with white blonde hair offered me a leek. "No thank you," I said, "but that is an impressive leek." The boys mother then swooped in and grabbed his arm, scolding him and apologizing to me, "So sorry," she said, "I have my hands full." And she did, literally, have her hands full with bags of lettuce. Her cart was piled high with holiday food and two other children were loitering around her legs. I, on the other hand, was blissfully wasting time considering how many persimmons to buy given that I'd be flying home for Christmas in only a few days. I decided on three, if you were wondering.
I assured the mother that the boy was not bothering me, complimented his choice of leek, and went on my merry way. But I did wonder what it would be like to be her, to be grocery shopping with three little humans, who are likely distracted by everything shiny or novel. Piling a cart high with groceries, only to arrive home and realize she forgot the whipping cream or turkey baster or butter. I can sort of imagine what it might be like to be her, but not really. I'm not a mother, I've never had three children in my care, and I've never bought that many groceries at once, ever.
Thinking about how I don't know what it's like to be the mother in the grocery store made me realize how many assumptions we make about each other all the time. It's also the reason why sometimes, social issues can rub me the wrong way. We can all have opinions on homelessness, but how many of us have actually been homeless? We can all have opinions on abortions, but how many of us will ever know what it's like to be carrying a child, or what it's like to abort one? We can all weigh in on the outcome of a high-profile court case, but most of us know what it's like to be in the witness stand. We can mostly agree that politicians are crocked or liars or subsumed with self-interest, but none of us are them and they are not we and it's really a great wonder that any of us get along to any degree.
My point is that I don't know what it's like to be anyone other than me, which is why so many of my blogs start and end with the personal. I am what I know best, and I can only hope that I've grown better at articulating my own little corner of the universe. Finally, I've learned that my unique perspective is no better or worse, no more or less valid than anyone else's. And neither is yours. We all belong here, and none of us is better.