First, I have no weapons if I don’t have irony.
Second, the topic at hand: the blogs that proliferate the internet today, of which this site also purports to be.
We have moved from the days of the personal memoir to the days of how-to, and blogs, or the ones I follow, are increasingly filled with 3 ways to sell your art or the morning routine that billionaires have.
The problem under the surface of each of these posts is that they promise a technical manipulation in order to achieve your ends. Take a cold shower in the morning to have more energy. (Full disclosure: I do this. I also have a blog.) And this is good to a point, as there’s a great deal of free advice, and a good deal of wisdom that people are happy to give away.
But as I follow these blogs, I’m increasingly reminded that each one is pointing toward its own version of success and happiness; there’s a deeper story inherent. Here’s how to get published, says one, which, as every aspiring writer knows, will bring immense happiness and success. Except when it doesn’t.
The bouncy optimism of these blogs is only true in part. That is, as a reader of technical advice, and a taker of cold showers, we must remember the full story. Any armchair psychologist will remind you that if you aim for happiness, there’s no better way to remain dissatisfied. And if we aim for success, we may achieve it, but my friend Ryan always claims, “Bags fly free.” You remain stuck with the same neuroses; you just now have more to worry about.
I dislike blog posts because they rarely, in the end, bring us closer to ourselves, or to God, unless that god is money or fame.
We draw closer to ourselves through silence and prayer. I do it by journaling about my days, to see what stories are there that I have missed. Sometimes I shut my eyes and ask what I can sense, what I can hear. Right now, the wind blows against the house. My youngest daughter is singing downstairs, and it echoes upward. There is beauty in such things, but we must learn to look for them.
I digress (or do I?). The journey to God, of course, is both within and without. Outside of ourselves, it happens over good meals and deep conversations. I recommend food: the shared table holds a greater power than we realize in the 21st century. And caffeine or alcohol are helpful. We form connections with others, who, if we believe the astonishing words of Genesis, are made in the image of a transcendent God.
This is hard to believe, and impossible to believe when you’re hurried from one goal to the next. It becomes easier when you stop to hear your daughter sing, even a floor away.
I dislike blog posts not because I don’t want success. I do. And blogs are helpful toward the end, oftentimes. But I dislike blog posts because I think the best thing we can do is urge each other to look and pay attention to what’s going on.
We can urge each other to live.