Although the portmanteau ‘blog’ sounds like some sort of blunt instrument you would keep under the bed; waiting in the dark to be used to threaten a vagabond rummaging for your valuables, its name defies the subtleties and nuance of how it can be utilised at its best. For at its best, it is a refined instrument to aid – what has been sought by people all through the pages of history – human emotional connection. What could be more nuanced than the minds of human beings and the thoughts that coast on the rising thermals therein?
It is a means for words, and the ideas they represent, to be shared from one individual to another. A blog, I’m hoping to discover, could be a good way to make that connection, with those that also seek to find a footpath amongst the weeds and quagmires of an uncertain world; towards meaning and purpose in life today.
In the world of 2020 where communication is so readily available at our fingertips, devices in our pockets that enable instantaneous conversation to the other side of the world (Kirk to Enterprise stylee); do we feel any less alone at times than we did a generation ago? I would suggest not. So is the volume of ‘noise’ in digital flight the issue, or the confrontational elements to some of it? Possibly both, so I thought I would start a blog to discuss how helpful or not it is to have endless voices chattering on about what’s on their mind. I’m not sure I’ve thought this through?!
What can be added to the over burdened in-tray of offerings? Well, nothing is new under the sun, but we must all make our own individual discoveries even if the sentiment is a universal one. Sometimes we all feel we want to put the world to rights, and have exclusive intuitive access to the blue print for success to that ends. In our generosity, we should bestow this plan on all unfortunate stragglers we manage to corner. Pubs are prime hunting grounds; unfortunate quarry can be trapped in the glare of upturned pint glasses and scythed down by volleys of unrequested opinion.
It’s not even just opinion. It seems it’s the intoxication of knowing you’re in the right (especially in the pub)! But what are we saying to ourselves? I know everything I need to know? I am the finished article? What a state of intellectual stasis to be in. Dead to the possibility of exploring new lands of knowledge or perspective and the exciting new cognitive adventures that that can bring? Do we sometimes fight to hold a position of opinion because it is simply something familiar and the approach of something new touches on insecurities we suspect in the foundations of our world view built up by our experience? This is not entirely easy to rise above, but in the endeavour there is great reward. If we can learn bad habits; smoking, comfort eating, pre-judging people, using communication as an opportunity to vent anger – we have at least proved we have the abilities to learn. We’ve learnt once, we can learn something new if we wish to. I know, as a person who has always lived with their emotions close to hand, how it is to succumb to a wave of emotion in the heat of debate. I still do on occasion, but in reflecting many times on how damaging to the ability to communicate well, and the pain caused to others and myself, loss of emotions cause, I now see it coming more than I once did. In knowing myself a little better I have tried to learn to surf the emotions, than swim against them. It is of course, still an ongoing project.
Especially in the current arena of hostility and accusation within social debate, the tendency to take a hostile stance seems all too common; especially with those who may historically disagree. It can be a challenge; dare we admit to finding common ground with someone with whom we have personally or ideologically found disagreeable in order to discover a truth? Our emotions may rise in the moment, but if we consider that what we are doing in this exercise is searching for that truth, then surely that is the ultimate guide. Even if it isn’t easy, in the wee small hours of our night we may accept that we took something away from what was offered, even if it is simply a deeper understanding of our own position and how best to express that; and we are a little wiser for it.
I can remember in my younger days being almost overcome with emotion when I felt strongly about a topic. This served only as a mental straight jacket, then my breathing would be affected and my brain and tongue would stall, which created its own little self perpetuating eddy of frustration. It took a few years of painful soul searching, but eventually, slowly, as I learnt to be a bit more tolerant of myself and my own failings – I learnt to be more tolerant of others I was communicating with, whatever our differences. As I learnt to be more understanding of others – I learnt to be more understanding of myself. Frustration slowly loosened its grip from around my solar plexus and I was able to breathe without effort once again. Real self confidence, being ‘comfortable in your own skin’, isn’t portrayed by chest thumping statements – ‘look at those cavemen go’- but comes from accepting you may or may not find you change your mind about something on hearing other people’s views. Being emotionally secure, (not emotionless, but a healthy passion gets more done when it plots its course wisely) and after giving it some thought yourself… dare I say… we find we were wrong about something!! “How very dare you!!” Wow, we learnt something today. Today is a good day. Also, the best way to be heard is to show you are listening too. Ahh yes!… listening, invented aeons ago by the native peoples of this planet but has fallen out of fashion recently for not being interesting enough. “Who wants to listen when I’ve got so much Fab stuff to say?!”
Not always easy to do though in the face of those who trade in such currencies as anger or duplicity. They will always be there, and they have their agendas. Often it is as simple as accruing financial gain, notoriety or power; regardless that their words pour fuel on fires that actualise real emotional and even physical pain in people’s lives. The extinguishing of these fires will never come from more fuel or more fire. Sometimes when I watch or hear the very worst of these purveyors of political poison discussing the topic of the day, and they are espousing an argument that, in my view, belies reason, tolerance or simple common decency, often I wonder, rather than shout them down, a little room should be given to allow their words, not to be lost in the anarchy of noise, but to hang in the air and let them expose themselves for what they really are. Give them enough rope to hang themselves as the old saying goes. Allow the true reality of what is being said time to be absorbed and most people will instinctively know what dark currencies this person deals in. In your quietude you can watch the egos clashing in the arena waiting for the thumbs up or thumbs down from the onlookers. People’s behaviour changes in front of a crowd; playing to the gallery, saying what you think other people will grant you merits for, which should not be the case, which is what a lot social media is, rather than when they communicate one to one. This is not to say you do not make your case as you see fit, in strength and with quiet resolve. Not at all, you deliver with fortitude and grace what you genuinely believe, but leave the screaming to the banshees.
For those fans of a peaceful world out there; and I include myself in your number, the question here would be why is there so much tumult in global discourse at the moment? Not a question that can be answered simply, but to be considered. Maybe a reflection of an underlying unrest in the soul of humankind today? Of course, all we have dominion over is, how much at peace we are ourselves and how that consequently affects those that we touch in our lives. And in a very real sense, this is at least a start, that is how we change the world, an awful lot of us little folk taking one small step forward.
So, why a blog? In the modern forum of digital communications, a Tweet is an holler shouted from a passing car, Instagram – us permanently in our wedding clothes, a podcast is usually a considered long form of conversation where ample time is available for an exchange of views, an e-book is a formal book length of course and somewhere between those, a blog, is a morning assembly length offering that may inspire or perplex the reader dependant on how one connects with the content. They say, and why shouldn’t we believe them, there are hundreds of millions of blogs being written worldwide now in 2020. So there is more choice than probably is good for us to find a blog that speaks to us as an individual.
The process of writing itself usually requires the author to sit quietly, distil the settling thoughts that you have been chatting to (not out loud in the supermarket [again!]) for a while, find the story’s heart and release that flow of thoughts that have been bubbling under the surface for too long. This for me is a true catharsis and is beneficial to the writer even if the words were left unread for all time. The exercise itself helps to clarify the writer’s own aspirations, concerns and hopes for themselves. As you follow the thread of thoughts and put them down on paper (laptop) in front of you, you’re seeing how they connect together in a bigger structure of context for the first time yourself. When I first attempted to write something that others might end up reading, I overly concerned myself with whether the reader would be taken with the writing. This was a writer being overloaded with unnecessary concerns or wanting the writing to be good, or even gooder than that, making difficult and painful progress. You’re going to make mistakes, give up worrying about that; you’ll learn from them. Try and speak with authenticity; if you want to impress someone – do some press ups. People have a sensitive nose for the false and contrived.
He wrote some good bits and pieces didn’t he. Shakespeare, not Hamlet, although I am not saying here on my first blog that Hamlet couldn’t write well (if he applied himself a bit more). I just genuinely believe that Shakespeare’s writing will have more chance of standing the test of time. Time will tell.
There are so many voices out there in the ‘blogosphere’, (hopefully the last time I use that word – sounds like an even bigger weapon under the bed than the first one) why add mine? Why call out into the vastness of space and wait to see if there is a reply? We know they’re out there. You know them… every kind of fella, the fortune seller claiming he’s Rockefeller, Cinderella in the cellar re-inventing the propeller, the fortune teller with unforeseen salmonella, Isabella drinking Stella from a lit up umbrella and the fledgling storyteller exposed as a misspella. All human life abounds. Maybe, it is just the fun and enjoyment of sharing life with others, sometimes we want to just call out, cup your hand to your ear and listen out to the universe for an answer. I have experienced this before and it was extremely satisfying I must say, but I was definitely not calling out my ex-girlfriend’s name down some concrete drainage pipes on the way home from the pub down the back of the railway sidings, one Saturday night, November before last. (Wow!! … I was hoping that wouldn’t come up!)
So here’s to communication, one to the other, and all its different voices, may they be honest and open. From a touch of a hand, a smile across a crowded place, a silent hug in a moment of pain, to the spoken or written word and all their intentions. They leave an imprint after we have moved on. If we imagine one day we may find ourselves at a vantage point where we reflect back on those imprints we have left – it might lend us some consideration about how we make our way communicating through today.