A helpful reminder

I haven’t blogged frequently in quite awhile, and not at all for the past six months, and I’d been getting fairly comfortable with that. So it was a wakeup call to read these quotes from Seth Godin about why he has committed to blogging daily, and has done so for many years:

“Your podcast will reach more people than your book will. A blog post will reach more people than a podcast.”

“Everyone should write a blog, every day, even if no one reads it. There’s countless reasons why it’s a good idea and I can’t think of one reason it’s a bad idea.”

“If you know you have to write a blog post tomorrow, something in writing, something that will be around 6 months from now, about something in the world, you will start looking for something in the world to to write about. You will seek to notice something interesting and to say something creative about it. Well, isn’t that all we’re looking for? The best practice of generously sharing what you notice about the world is exactly the antidote for your fear.”

The bolded section was especially resonant for me. I’m a good noticer, but at the same time I feel perpetually inadequate to the task. So much just passes me by. Recently I read a piece about tree blindness and said, yep, that’s me. Most days I walk for 30+ minutes through an older, tree-rich neighborhood without taking notice of any of them. So I bought myself a tree identification guide and set myself the task of learning a little about the trees that surround me. I haven’t made much progress yet, but at least I notice that there are trees, and that they are different from one another, and yet the different trees have recognizable similarities. Meanwhile my son Benjamin, who accompanies me on my walks when his school schedule permits, has taken up tree identification with gusto. I’ve consulted with him about how well a particular leaf fits given pictures in the book, and printed out zoomed-in Google maps of our neighborhood for him to mark up with tree types and locations, and helped him figure out how to ripen and prepare some chestnuts he gathered from a Chinese chestnut tree up the street. I helped him eat them as well–they were pretty good!

Noticing is good, and I’m good at it, and any practice that can help me become a better noticer is something I should embrace warmly. But somehow I saw blogging as something more than that. I ended up taking an approach which sustained me for a long while–nearly 15 years–but withered away as my life shifted into its final phase.

So I’m now thinking about why I drifted out of the habit of blogging, and reviewing the reasons I had for being comfortable with not doing it, and weighing them against the benefits that Seth Godin points out. Maybe it will help me understand why my old approach to blogging failed me, and to form a new one which gets the posts flowing again.

2 thoughts on “A helpful reminder

  1. I can think of some good reasons not to blog every day that have to do with clinging to wisdom and avoiding noise, but I agree that for thinkers and writers it can be a good thing to keep in shape, just like jogging. And, I miss your blog.

  2. Great thoughts, Rick. It’s funny how we need these little pushes to get ourselves going, and to remember to notice things. While Godin’s recommendation is my #1 takeaway here, your mention of getting a tree identification guide was an awesome bonus. I’m thinking of doing the same. I used to be much better at it as I had to take botany in college. But identifying trees, other plants, and birds has drifted to the wayside for me over the years, and now I find myself not remembering many of them. And these are things we walk by every single day – no matter where we are. I think it’s time I got back to noticing them.

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