Why/while I’ve been away…

I suppose I’ve shattered my previous record for lag-time between posts, and as has been fairly pointed out, particularly between real posts. I’ve started two or three in that time but have lacked either the time or the inspiration to finish them. I know that is a great loss for you (whoever you are still lurking ’round here after such a protracted void), as those are moments of potential greatness we shall never get back. I pray you’ll recover.

More seriously, during the time I’ve spent not writing here, I’ve spent a fair amount of time contemplating why I’m not writing here. I began this blog (actually its predecessor over at blogger.com back before google bought that site) on March 25, 2003. I certainly was no pioneer, but I don’t believe I knew anyone who was blogging at that time. I was fairly prolific for those first few years, and compared to the last year or so, I was floating my thoughts into your space like Peyton Manning inserts himself into teevee viewers’ living rooms. So what happened?

I’ve tinkered with multiple answers to that question, and I’m sure a more than one of them occupy a slice of the real explanation(s).

I can truthfully say that a much larger portion of my time, energy, and creativity is allocated to my offspring than was in 2003. At the time of my first post I had one six-month old child. Today I have a five year-old, a two-point-five year old, and a three month old. Also two of them are girls. If you know me or you know girls, you understand that is not an insignificant detail for all kinds of wonderful and overwhelming reasons. However, I know folks with more kids than me who blog profusely. Either those people are neglecting their children (a possibility we shouldn’t rule out) or I can’t lean fully into that excuse. It’s relevant, but there’s more.

I am spending much more time working out than I was in 2003. My intense fitness regimen not only consumes much of my time, but it also requires me to preserve as much of my mental energy and motivation as possible for the gym.

…you like that? I began working out two weeks ago with a guy in our church community who is a personal trainer, and I’ve spent a total of about three hours in the gym. I lifted weights last week for the first time in a decade. I just thought it would be fun to float this one out there.

I’m also changing in a way that requires me to recalibrate some of what I’ve used this space for in the past. You’ll be tempted to think this one is a bigger joke than the gym excuse, but this is the truth: the total square footage in my mind allocated for cynicism, sarcasm, and snarkiness is continuing to shrink. Those little critters still occupy more space in me than they should, I’m sure, and I’m not on a mission to kill them altogether. I don’t believe they are innately evil or useless. There’s just been a somewhat unexpected march within me against thoughts and words that don’t produce life…that treat people as entities or fools rather than souls…that unfairly or unnecessarily lump these folks in with those folks…that dismiss or diminish real humans to pawns in organizations or movements or groups…that assume my flaws are somehow less egregious and pitiful than the flaws of those living in worlds I’ve departed or worlds I’ve never known… Hopefully you get the point. Of course those things didn’t characterize all of my posts before, and I make no promises that they’ll never surface again. I certainly don’t mean to disavow sarcasm and satire as legitimate vehicles for communication, humor, or even teaching. I just have less of an appetite than I once did for producing and consuming these things in their uglier forms, so I’m much more prone to flush posts before they’re ever written. That’s a real factor, but there are others.

For the first time in many years, my job does not primarily involve sitting in front of a computer. Now I’m not saying I ever wrote blog posts while on the clock. I’m just saying. I’m not in front of the computer all day, every day. This matters.

Another job-related factor, and a big one, is this: I love what I do, and I’m not spending time during the week (usually) looking for something more interesting or enjoyable to do. It’s actually very common for something to happen during my day that I think would make for a great post, and I often begin writing the post in my head. I just rarely have the time during the day to stop and transcribe it to here. I suppose I could begin making voice recordings during the day, then one of you could transcribe them to the blog for me. Applications for that position can be submitted at any time.

The final explanation that I’ve scratched out is a bit more abstract, and it has to do with the role and budgeting of words. I could probably write pages unsuccessfully trying to explain how my strange mind works, but I’ll try to stick with the relevant details. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been writing in my head. I’m always stringing words together and not always voluntarily. I don’t mean that I’m nuts, though that’s certainly a valid discussion. I just mean that this is how I experience and respond to the world around me. For most of my life, that happened in my head. My sophomore year in high school, with the help of an English teacher, I began to discover some parallel between what was happening in my head and what I could do on paper. Somewhere along the way email expanded that horizon, and I eventually began making my living with words.

In 2003 I discovered this outlet, and it freed up a piece of me that no other part of my life was nurturing. I was writing and editing at work, but it was mostly just work. I still had words to be put together that meant something – and more words than I could unload on my wife in the evenings. So I blogged.

Thanks be to God, my life is far less segmented these days. I am not rich, I’m sometimes too busy, I’m not the best at what I do, but I often feel like I’m living my dream in this way: there are very few seams in our life. My work, my family, my friends, my church community – these things are all so integrated for me that I seldom distinguish between them. Some warn, either from very worldly or very spiritual perspectives, that this is a dangerous way to live. I say to hell with safe ways of living. Give me more wholes and fewer pieces.

So what does that have to do with my impoverished blog? Perhaps for the first time in my life, this part of me that is so deeply related to words – to hearing, assembling, and sharing them – is at home in the rest of my life. It has room to breathe and freedom to grow. My conversations are rich, and much of my "writing" – my expression of things that matter to me – manifests itself as I talk with folks every day. I teach in small and larger groups regularly, usually once or twice a week. The words I expel in those situations aren’t always premeditated or, precisely speaking, written in advance, but the net effect is more or less the same. And did I mention that I really enjoy this way of living?

Anyway, all that means is that since I’m rarely blogging during the day, by the time it gets late and I think of blogging, I’ve spent most of my quality words for the day. Sometimes I consider recreating some of that stuff here, but I rarely do it for other possibly neurotic reasons related to my view of writing, inspiration, and originality. That may make no sense to anyone but me. Sorry.

And yet I really enjoy and miss this. Even this post, which is largely introspective and self-indulgent, has been fun for me to write. I need to write more. I want to write more. I will write more. I make no promises, but I’m hopeful for this space in the days ahead. We’ll see.