My blog’s been in hiding for the last several months. I haven’t stopped writing, but I switched it from public to private after a stressful encounter with a follower. I needed to step back and examine what I’m doing here, what I’m doing on social media, and why I do any of it. I haven’t formally asked myself these questions since January 2015 when I wrote this post: What the heck do I want a blog for?
Back then, I wrote that I hoped this blog would uncover some new paths of interest, and it has. I’ve discovered nature writing, nature photography, found poetry, memoir writing, gratitude, poetry challenges (more please!), words to help navigate a stressful election year, and so much more.
I haven’t reached the end of any of these paths yet and I’m still curious where they’ll lead. That’s one big reason to stay.
A second reason came from a book I’m reading called Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife by Barbara Bradley Hagerty, a longtime NPR reporter. Haggerty spent a year researching what she captured in the essence of her title. One of pages I earmarked (right near the beginning of the book) was an interview with a Harvard researcher named Robert Waldinger who is directing a decades-long study on midlife.
“The people who seem the happiest are the people who feel like they’re able to express aspects of themselves that feel vital to them, that make them feel alive. It’s not any particular path you have to take, it’s being able to express the core of who you are,” he said.
Writing fulfills that need because it’s my favored mode of expression, and it helps me engage with interesting people. But blogging is public, and public is scary. I’ll have to learn to live with that because the positives outweigh the negatives. While I don’t feel the need for a large audience, it’s sometimes nice to have a small one because writing is such a solitary practice. Blogging provides that opportunity.
This brings me to my final reason — you, the readers. My friends, my family, and the blogging community I’d like to grow.
Waldinger would agree.
“What’s meaningful in life is not about me as an isolated, separate self,” he said. “What’s meaningful is this vast continuum of life that I’m just a little part of — and a totally interconnected part of.”
“Maintaining engagement with the world,” explained Waldinger, is one of the big predictors of end-of-life fulfillment.
So here I am.