It has been a 14 day hiatus since I last wrote. Sometimes I have a torrent of things to write about, and the blog is a river. Sometimes there isn’t much to say. I’ve always suffered from the affliction of not really needing anything to say to do plenty of talking, and that can be very annoying. I hate wasting other people’s time. So I try to keep the wordiness here confined to that which I think is actually helpful or interesting. Even so, this has been a long hiatus for me.
Two weeks ago, we put on the 2nd Annual Roger Snyder Memorial Race in Richfield. It was another large undertaking, but we had lots more people to help this time. The weekend left me rather wiped out mentally, and I took time last Monday to do an 8 mile run up to the spring on Shade Mountain, just off the peak of route 104. I went past it up the mountain road, where there were some Susquehanna students taking soil samples for a class. It was just a beautiful day, and I took it all in. I didn’t feel like writing. I was too content. Writing, for me, comes out of angst, or conflict. That’s why so much of this blog has focused on what’s WRONG out there, with the food system. But while that’s still all true, I’ve said plenty lately. Now, I’m content. A songwriter I liked in the 90s, Christine Lavin, had a song called “Please Don’t Make Me Too Happy.” The next line was because if you do, my songwriting will suffer. I feel that way about the blog sometimes. The persona here started as a fat guy who was tired of being fat and sedentary. Now I’m moving, (still fat) but that angst shifted into frustration at how I got there even when I was making an effort. Without that, all this writing would be a poor substitute for Tony Robbins’ motivational stuff. When the day comes that I feel like I’ve “arrived,” I hope I have enough going on to have a voice that can be interesting.
Anyway,. since the race I have waited until I had enough time to collect my thoughts. In the meantime, I have been struggling with my own use of social media, mostly Facebook. I think it may be time for another hiatus. Maybe this is my current angst.
I had a very active weekend just now, and I shared none of it on Facebook. We saw close friends who have moved far away and happened to be on the East Coast briefly, We took my kids to a dog stunt show, we visited the farm where sheep camp will happen. I have an intense grieving situation in the parish, which is never easy, but it is what I do and it is one of those times when I feel actually useful to others. The point is, I’m alive fully. I don’t need to “check in” at every place. I don’t need to say something clever to broadcast to the world at every turn of my day.
I think the old question of whether a tree falling in the forest makes a sound with no one to hear it, is slowly being replaced with “if you have an experience that wasn’t shared on social media, did it really happen?” Along the way of this busy weekend, I randomly saw someone in a store I hadn’t planned to stop in, whom I knew in college. She isn’t on facebook, but because of a mutual friend who is, I happened to mention I saw her picture last week. She said she feels really behind the times, and should get on there. I told her “no no no – stay out while you can. It’s a time suck. It’s not needed. It can be nice to connect with people, but the vast majority of it is just simply a waste, and pointless.” She was glad to hear that perspective from someone, because all the other heavy FB users she knows are telling her how out of the loop she is. There was a great sketch on Portlandia this season, where a really badly planned and executed short trip to Italy was a mess, but the friends at home thought it looked great through FB updates. Fred’s line “Everyone on the internet, they’re not having as great a time as you think they are.” Carrie’s well-worded response: “I guess they’re cropping out all the sadness.”
I’m not saying the last two weeks have been sad, not at all. But we could all use a bit more cropping of the mundane. Just live your life, in the present. If you don’t document it perfectly, oh well. I shot no video of the race this year. I took fewer photos of the race setup and finish this year, but because of the excellent help with timing, I was able to get out on the course to see the safety points, and in doing so, I got to see the turnaround area and take photos of my kids, and see how people were enjoying the course while it was happening. I got a real-time perspective that I don’t often get, as the last person to finish, or as someone only at the finish line.
That’s what the doughboy to ironman project is, in part, about. Get out there and live it. If the language of social media and constant documentation is part of the way you relate to the world, sure, have at it. But don’t miss the next moment while reaching for the phone to capture the one that just got away. Consider the possibility of waiting to “share” everything until later, maybe giving it time to process. That’s part of why I do this blog. It is an exercise in editing. (Believe it. If you think I’m wordy here, imagine me without putting some effort into choosing words.) Show me the pictures later. Pick a couple that will tell the story and hold my interest. I don’t need to see it as it’s happening in your life. That’s why they’re called stories. I just checked into my stats for the blog, and even on days I don’t publish, I have a steady stream of views. On Saturday it dropped way down to 13. I was thrilled to see that. It was a beautiful day out. It was Saturday. Don’t read my blog on Saturday, go DO something! OK, you can check in later when you’re tired out from your day of activity.
I’ll post a race recap with some short anecdotes of why I love the running scene and what it does for my spirit. I thought I’d get this half-finished meandering out of the way for now. See what happens when I don’t write for two weeks? I lose focus. Also there’s this little matter of the Hyner Challenge coming up in 5 days. I hope to have something interesting to tell you. Considering the race director’s constant reminders that there is no pulling out part way, that this is a serious event, I know that a partway drop-out DNF is not an option. If I start, I finish. With life as it is in my call, I can never say for sure that I will start. But if I do, I will finish.
I’ve got other topics in the hopper: what a kid said to me about candy, the love/hate relationship I have with being this slow, whether or not I’m tweaking the food thing, signing up for/not signing up for events, training challenges, and when exactly do I think this ironman thing may happen? All this and more in the weeks ahead.