Time for the Rest of Your Life

After thinking about Anthony Bourdain and seeing what other people have posted about his suicide, one theme emerges time and again: despite what’s happening on the outside, you just never know the pain someone’s experiencing on the inside.

As I think about this and its connection to my own life, here’s something we all can do, and it’s simple: the next time we ask someone how he or she is doing, mean it. The question is almost always used as a meaningless pleasantry that serves as a conversational placeholder until we can get to what we really want to talk about. For that reason, the response to that question is also usually cursory, superficial: “I’m fine” or “I’m good” or, for the grammatically savvy, “I’m well.”

I’m guilty of this on both sides of the equation. My “how ya doin’?” is meant to convey general interest, and its slangy familiarity is an attempt at casual friendliness. But how often do I ask it and listen – I mean REALLY LISTEN – to the reply before blowing past it and onto whatever we’re talking about next?

And when someone else asks me this, my response is almost always, “I’m good!” But the truth is simple: I’m not good. I’ve gotten skilled at hiding it, but I’ve been dealing with my own stuff — job-related depression and anxiety, mostly — for almost two years now. An honest answer to this question would be something like, “I’ve been struggling for a while” or “I’m feeling kind of lost” or “I’m not sure what my value is anymore.” And who has time for that? Why would I burden anyone with my own issues?

But maybe we need to make time for each other. To ask and listen. To share and respond. If we want to do our small part to prevent more Anthony Bourdains and Scott Hutchisons and Robin Williamses – as well as all the other unnamed people who might not be famous but whose loss is no less important, no less painful – maybe we need to make more of an effort to learn how people are doing on the inside, even if they seem good on the outside.

To ask, “How are you doing?” and really want to hear the answer, whatever it might be.

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I Feel So Free (Citation Needed)

rebootI think I figured it out.

Maybe.

The trick with blogging is – wait for it – staving off boredom.

I’ve tried a few different strategies over the years to keep this thing fresh (and by “this thing” I’m referring to the various blogs I’ve kept since 2003, not necessarily this one in particular, which has never been especially lively).  I’ve forced myself to post daily, I’ve exhorted readers for comments, I’ve focused on a particular genre, I’ve incorporated theme posts, and I’ve identified a range of causes for my inconsistent writing habits (all of which or none of which may be accurate).  Nothing has stuck.

But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get the itch to write, especially now that there’s so much perplexing stuff going on in the world – in addition to all the usual professional and personal issues I still have an odd inclination to dump into cyberspace.

So, with my newfound epiphany in mind, it’s possible that, like so many other things in my life, I’m making the blog more complicated than it has to be.

Maybe the big blogging secret is this: Write to keep myself entertained.

I know the prevailing theory is that a blog should be focused – on cats, on recipes, on movies, on 18th Century haberdashery – to generate an audience, but I’m too easily distracted to write about only one thing with any sustainable passion.  Faithful readers (hi, you two) know I kept the book review thing going for a year(ish), but there were some significant silent periods where I just couldn’t be bothered to crank out another thousand words.  So I’m hoping that engaged writer trumps scattered blog.

So: Whether you’re a friend who’s stuck around this long or you’ve somehow stumbled onto this post by accident, what can you expect from here on in?

  • Reviews (movies, music, books)
  • Political rants
  • Personal stories
  • Travel diaries
  • Infrequent poetry and/or short fiction
  • Cultural commentary
  • Humorous* observations
  • Random detritus that doesn’t fit anywhere else

Will I sustain it?  I dunno.  I mean, I know the odds aren’t in my favor.  But maybe – just maybe – if I can avoid my tendency to turn this thing into homework, it might last longer than a week and a half (but, ahem, comments from readers really help).

* may not actually be humorous

*****

Current listening:

Girls arms

Girls Names – Arms Around a Vision (2015)