“No doubt in Holland,
when van Gogh was a boy,
there were swans drifting
over the green sea
of the meadows, and no doubt
on some warm afternoon
he lay down and watched them,
and almost thought: this is everything.
What drove him to get up and look further
is what saves this world,
even as it breaks
the hearts of men.”
– Mary Oliver, Everything
This will be the 773rd blog post for a total of 333,789 words (including quotes from others). I wonder sometimes where the words go when I click publish. And I wonder sometimes whether writing everyday matters. But I snap out of it, remembering the words of Seth Godin:
“Daily blogging is an extraordinarily useful habit. Even if no one reads your blog, the act of writing it is clarifying, motivating and (eventually) fun.”
Daily blogging has indeed turned out to be all three of those things and more. But it isn’t lost on me that I set out to blog about exploration and I tend to be locked in my own yard most days. But that’s 2020 for you. Above all, writing is clarifying. And even if no one reads the blog, the act has mattered far more to me than anticipated.
What drove him to get up and look further is what saves this world, even as it breaks the hearts of men.
It also isn’t lost on me that few actually ever read it. But I haven’t earned that following just yet (and don’t invest any time in self-marketing my blog). Still, there are those WTF days when you bleed all over the screen and the world buzzes in complete indifference. Like putting all that energy into a garden and having it mowed down by a groundhog while you were away for a few days, its the world telling you that your work doesn’t matter as much as you thought it did. The ultimate exercise in humility.
Someone told me recently that the blog is a gift for my children someday when I’m gone. I suppose that’s true, but its also a living trust of sorts, with the writer being the primary beneficiary while he’s still around. If I should keep this up for the next ten years that works out to be roughly 1.5 million more words coming out of my brain and onto the page. If I push the average up I could make that 2 million words. Godin also mentioned that the first 1000 posts are the hardest. Frankly I can’t agree more. The process of writing, of getting up and looking further, is moving me in directions that are enlightening and yes, clarifying. And maybe that’s enough.