Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Why Do I Blog?

David Brooks wrote an oped piece "Introspective or Narcissistic" in the New York Times that answered my question in part although he is speaking about journals and not blogs:  

"People who keep a journal often see it as part of the process of self-understanding and personal growth. They don’t want insights and events to slip through their minds. They think with their fingers and have to write to process experiences and become aware of their feelings."  


Along with hundreds of others, I left a comment after quoting the paragraph above. 

I have kept a variety of journals for years. Re-reading travel journals has brought back long forgotten memories. I've shared excerpts from journals written when my children were young with them when they became parents. I've kept a "spiritual journal" with texts and prayers and insights from others that I want to benefit from again. I've kept therapy journals and those are a problem. I hate to burn them, but I don't want anyone else to find them when I am gone. I've begun destroying parts of them--many of them written in the middle of the night.

Now I blog as well. Blogging has helped me through the process of deciding to cut back on work, to retire, and now to adjust to a new way of living.

Thinking with my fingers, first with pen and paper and now with a Chromebook, has been a way of life for me. Is this narcissistic to write this comment? Maybe.

Here is more from David Brooks's piece:

People who oppose journal-keeping fear it contributes to self-absorption and narcissism. C.S. Lewis, who kept a journal at times, feared that it just aggravated sadness and reinforced neurosis....
The question is: How do you succeed in being introspective without being self-absorbed?
Psychologists and others have given some thought to this question. The upshot of their work is that there seems to be a paradox at the heart of introspection. The self is something that can be seen more accurately from a distance than from close up. The more you can yank yourself away from your own intimacy with yourself, the more reliable your self-awareness is likely to be....
When people examine themselves from too close, they often end up ruminating or oversimplifying. Rumination is like that middle-of-the-night thinking — when the rest of the world is hidden by darkness and the mind descends into a spiral of endless reaction to itself. People have repetitive thoughts, but don’t take action. Depressed ruminators end up making themselves more depressed.

I have been thinking--and ruminating--about this for a while.  I'd like to think that my blogging over the last four years has helped me through the process of changing focus on my job, cutting back on teaching,  making the decision to retire, and now adjusting to a new way of life.  Most of the entries are related to this transion.

A few nights ago, however, as I have done before when I do the rare posting of my blog on Facebook, I lay awake and wondered what I was doing and why.  Do I write when I am lonely? Why do I want readers?  Why do I check stats to see how many readers there were?  Why am I so pleased with praise from Jim and close friends?  Why am I disappointed that there are so few comments compared to readers?  Why did I put myself out there in this way?

 I was "ruminating" as Brooks said and that was not a good way to sleep!

So here I am, processing through writing again.  I won't share this one on Facebook however.

I often end a blog with a word of thanksgiving.  When I am wakeful during the night,  I am  thankful to be able to have a pretty free schedule and no work responsibilities.    And I am thankful to be able to write about my thoughts!

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