Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A (Lack of) Vision Statement

Back in the dark ages of 2005 when I started to blog, almost on a whim, as I do most things, I think (although I am not sure) that my intent was to talk about the past as I partook of it, or witnessed it. I guess that would be sort of my vision statement, which, like those of most companies, ignored the real motives, which in my case was to do something to alleviate the boredom of living in small-city Alabama, and in the companies’ case, to make a heap o’ cash. This latter aim, I hasten to say, was my purpose in being in Alabama in the first place, but had nothing to do with the blog. And the main two reasons that living in small-city Alabama was boring was because I was relatively new there and had no connections, and more importantly, because I am a person who just sits around and is bored, rather than one who seizes the opportunity to explore my surroundings and make new friends.  It has nothing to do with the blandishments, or lack thereof, that Alabama offers.

As a vision or goal, this writing about What Happened has wavered some and has glowed mighty dim sometimes. Sometimes I get caught up in what is going on now, and sometimes I get caught up in issues, neither of which areas brings out the best in me, and both of which seem to extinguish for the moment my interest in what has gone before. I most emphatically do not want to blog as a diary of what I did today, and equally I do not want to talk about issues all the time, since when one does that, readers (sometimes even readers as bright and insightful as my Shaggers, all two of them) tend to snap into their pre-existing belief set and read only to agree, if they are so bent, or to nitpick if they are of a different view. Moreover, what could I possibly say that makes any difference?

It may or may not surprise anyone, considering the paucity of my entries lately, that I actually blog mentally several times each day. In the last day or two I have written a mental blog about a great blue heron which spent hours yesterday progressing majestically through and around my pond (Damn! they are big!) and about the ponds themselves, and about watching closely a video of Bush at Ground Zero and obsessing over how easily and naturally he kept his arm across the shoulder of the man in the hardhat (head cop? head fireman?) throughout his remarks via bullhorn and how different he is as a person from me in a way that makes me wish I had some of him in my make-up, and about buying my brother Luke his first computer (with his money, I hasten to add), and about my trip to Las Vegas with my former roommate from Saudi, and about my forthcoming trip to my niece’s wedding in California whither I am travelling by train.

I have not actually considered, until this moment, why the few who come here do so. Y’all have given me some very flattering comments, and since the majority of the tiny crew of readers who do come have been around for a very long time, I have to believe that some of it is true. It can’t ONLY be because then I’ll come and visit you, can it? That would seem too high a price for you to pay. I try to write as well as I can – at least in respect to using the English language I grew up with – although I hasten to admit there is no re-write or polish (or very little anyway – I do usually spellcheck, and in the good old fashioned way, by rereading, at which time I also check if my sentences actually make sense). No, I am not fishing here for compliments; I was just struck that I actually have never before thought about WHY such folks as jeankfl and onebeam and flooz and mizangie and Shana and the rest drop by. (I could mention some other faithfuls such as Gayle and Kittycatlane, but the former seems to be vacationing from blogging – and reading - for the nonce, and the latter is, I think, on a different site and is finding the navigation here a slog – besides, all those cats…) It would probably be useful for me to think about this, and then again, one of the reasons I do not use my real name – or the real names of my subjects - is to avoid writing FOR somebody, which for me means running a mental censor over everything and the whole point was to avoid that. But still, it is pointless to write things without some yardstick to measure, in my own head, whether those things were worth writing about, or whether what I wrote is worth anyone’s time to read.

I always knew (this is a seguĂ©, by the way) that there was something in my head that was highly counter-productive and that was the voice of my depression, or tendency thereto. And the other day, when I was walking away from the kitchen counter, leaving something or other lying there which should have been put away, I heard my head say, “I don’t have the time.” Since I had read the Sunday magazine that comes tucked in my newspaper this week (which I rarely do) and had found therein some words on the very topic of limited time by Diane Keaton, I was struck by how this phrase works for me so differently from the way it does for her. In discussing being older, and more aware that the time left to her on this Earth is limited, she spoke of stripping away the non-essential and throwing herself into the things worth doing. For me, limited time is a paralyzing thought, quite the opposite view from Ms Keaton’s. It is true that I strip away quite a bit of non-essential activity – and disposing of the food and utensils I was leaving on the counter could arguably been non-essential, at least for the nonce (and would also have taken two minutes, MAX!). But I find that I do absolutely nothing all day every day other than fill time with the least demanding activity possible, my nap (or naps) being the highlight. Anything that takes a foreseeable commitment of time is something from which I shy away. I don’t usually watch daytime TV (there are limits!), but I fiddle with repetitive computer games, read idly, wander about – anything that I can stop at any point without having to return home, clean up, or draw to a close one minute after I want it to be over with.

I thought during all those years of unrewarding work, that there was a certain legitimacy to the claim that I didn’t want to spent my off-work time doing that which I didn’t like doing. But now I have nothing but time – the Sunday breakfasts here with Mom are the sole scheduled events in my entire week and I do neither the cooking nor the clean-up for those. And I still hear nothing in my head, except variations of, “It takes too much time.” It takes too much time to make new friends, to try to reanimate old friendships, write letters, find congenial volunteer work and then perform it, mulch the garden, put up the deer-proof fence around my yew hedge, water house plants, finish painting my dining room (going on 5 years now on this project), straighten up this or any other room, set up my TV-cable-DVD properly – you name it, it takes too much time or effort or there are too many bits I don’t like about it. Do I know what I should do? Absolutely – at least in part. But I don’t do it. In the past when I have spun endlessly in ruts like this one, I have eventually revved up the energy or whatever to break away completely. I have hitched or flown or driven off to new, really different, places and that move in itself got the juices flowing for a bit. My friend Emily, the one friend I do call at least once a week, says that I am now reaping the whirlwind that I sowed by being utterly unable to commit to anything or anyone in my life. She is, I think, right. That doesn’t, however, seem to get me anywhere.

At the time, I thought I would have the Farm to live on forever, have my college friends forever, then I thought that I would surf forever (inept as I was), I would live by the ocean forever, then I believed I would do theater forever, I would be with Tumwell forever, and on and on. I never swore I would stop at any one of these places and stick it out through thick and thin, I just assumed I would never leave for something else, and even when I left each of these behind, I denied I was doing it – it was just a temporary respite, a quick foray into a new interest and that, unlike me, they –the friends, the places, the lovers - would remain the same, frozen in time, awaiting my return. I thought, I guess, that if I never closed a door behind me, that the door would remain open. But the portals of life are immune to the laws of inertia; the natural state of doors is closed and close they will if one does nothing to keep them open.

It is a grey day and I am having grey thoughts – and speaking of grey, the great blue heron looks grey to me; I don’t know where that ‘blue’ business comes from. And what do they eat all winter? The one out back looked like he was snapping up frogs or something, I am pretty sure he wasn’t having a salad. How many frogs can be found forging their way through winter's snowdrifts?  I'd look into this, but I just don't have the time.


  1. Someone once told me, when I was having a grey period like yours and going through my list of should's, that I need to stop using the word should. Get rid of it. Should breeds guilt. And guilt is like anger turned towards ourselves.

  2. I have listed my many faults before in one of my blogs. I have been blogging for over 5 years in several different blogs. My greatest fault I think is I procrastinate, and when you do that you do tend to leave things unfinished. I do hope your grey period turns sunny soon as life is WAY too short not to enjoy it thoroughly. One chance around is all we get and I am trying my best to make the most of it.

  3. You have snow now?

    There are blue herons that hang around and fly over my mother's house. They make a noise that sounds to me like a poor bird suffering from a fish hook in the neck. Or the devil himself. How can they look so cool (although I don't see any blue there either), and sound so fearful?

    It's nice to hear I'm not the only one who can't think of what to do that might be fun, in the free time that I do have. Alone. Fun alone has become an oxymoron. I did, however, have a short-lived spurt of feeling lucky to be alive after my "spell." Still happy to be here but no clue of what to do with myself. Alone.

  4. Must be the changes in the weather that has us all "grey". From the list of names you have, I'd say there are more than two Shaggers.. I know Steph and I are two of them, and there are several others I would include. We have blue herons here on our lake, too. I think they're beautiful.
    I tend to wander in and out of things, as well. Although, with my mother across the road, I am a little more scheduled than you. :) I tend to waste a lot of time, unless there's someone I want to impress, in which case I can move like there's no tomorrow! ahem... ;) Fortunately, (or perhaps not) there aren't a lot of those people around here.
    Hope you get out of your funk, and you keep on writing, if only for me... hehe

  5. Gael - You are right, of course. However, I have a feeling that doing nothing day after day is not the right course to pursue. Well, maybe my trip this coming week on Amtrak will stir the pot. Ah, pot! Good idea!

    Beth - I was so sure I would make the most of this one trip around once my dreary job was out of the way. Turns out that was hat was geting me going each day. Who knew? While procrastination is a fault of mine, a fierce battle rages within when I DO start something: every cell in me seems to want to stop before I finish. I can wash up 99 of 100 plates and the very forces of hell and heaven make me long to leave the 100th. A weird compulsion, but a real one.

    Flooz - No snow yet; in fact, the last 3 days have been sunny and warm (-ish). My heron (which was back again the next day) seems determined to keep silent. If that is the way they sound, more power to him! That alone thing is really awful, isn't it. I heard of 'feeling lonely' but I had no idea it really is something one can physically feel. And it sucks in a large way.

    Jeankfl - Yeah, that 'impress' motive is powerful. I'd give a lot if there were someone like that around. I have a sinking feeling that no one in my immediate vicinity would be impressed if I swallowed a fish hook like one of Flooz's herons. Or even would notice. I gotta get a life!

  6. Your blogs are interesting, that is why we read. Granted I am new to your world, but you can be sure I will be a loyal follower. Now I am not one to lie or sugar coat so I will admit, you coming to my site and commenting did make me come back to yours, but not in the way you think.

    Most blogs I read, and then keep going, I may comment, but not repeat my visit. Your insight into my blogs and your feedback though, has led me to believe you are a pretty interesting person, with interesting perspectives (like tellinig me to also blog the good memories I have, NO one else has mentioned that) so that tells me your blogs will be interesting and thought provoking as well... so that is what keeps me coming back.

    By the way, I got that good memory blog up finally. It took more energy and emotion to write this one out of any so far, and it isn't because it has any "depth" I mean, it is very "list" like but... it took energy...

    As far as your depression and not wanting to take the time to do things, I understand what you mean. I am not a doctor person so I have not been diagnosed, and I am not like that all the time, just in spurts but it is hard. I hope you find some way to deal with it, or accept it. So often everyone expects us to "change or fix" things about ourselves that they do not see as normal.
    I do not know that i am sold on that being the best approach. If you are not hurting anyone, doing harm to your relationships and such and you are able to care for yourself and take care of those responsibilties that really need to be taken care of then why not embrace what and who you are?

    Something only needs changing if YOU think it needs changing...

  7. OneGirl - First, thanks. I try to be interesting, but one is always in the trap of thinking that every little thought one has is interesting. Ever known one of those folks that was always telling the teribly funny thing Aunt Madge said or Cousin Orphy did, without in the lest telling anyone why this was funny? I always think of the girl in "Auntie Mama" who kept going on about how she "stepped on the ball", while all around her looked baffled.

    It is nice to be labelled 'provoking' with the modifier 'thought' for once - usually I get 'provoking' with a meaningful look and little else.

    I'd be happy as a clam if I didn't feel like my current life style was a waste. no one else seems to say so. But I just feel like I retired to DO somehting and it is all just slipping awa. I am off to California on Amtrak tonight, so I may be absent for a while, but who knows; maybe the train will derail and I'll have a story to tell.

  8. well, as your comment back to me stated, you have been absent for a while. So how is/was it out west? My family is from alabama, although I have only been there a couple of times, I think it is lovely. Very old feel to it.

    My uncle is currently in Cali, he is heading up some big wig company and has invited me to come out many times, but too many obligations seem to keep me at home.

    I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving, where ever you happened to spend it.

    Oh and as far as taking the train, I think that would be so cool. I have ALWAYS wanted to go cross country on a train. The amtraks go so damn fast though, I am not sure if I would get to see much. It passes through my little town at 80+ miles per hour even though we have 6 crossings right through our main road within a 2 mile stretch. There have been MANY ugly tragic accidents the last few years at those crossings. I really wish the would slow them down. The street the tracks run parallel to is only a 35 MPH zone.

  9. David-

    I left you a lengthy comment on my blog in reply to yours. Please check it when you have a few.


  10. David, you don't know me from Adam, but I found you through Marge's (what was I thinking)page. It was the comment that you made to her on her 'magical thinking' post, or might have been the one after, shoot, my mind just left me. Anyway, I was intrigued and for a split second thought you were me, lol. In face, on Marge's post, I wrote, "omg, DavidShag is me!" So that's how I landed here and read and read and read and I'm still intrigued. My thought after all this is: Your own mortality has finally come home to roost and it is one big scary thing to have to acknowledge. I'm at that same juncture and hate it. I always, ALWAYS thought everything would stay the same; that others might get older, but not me; that others might actually die, but not me, and on and on. Now I'm the very last left in my family -- no brothers, no sisters, and my view has drastically changed. Can't say I'm pleased about it but I don't think there's any trick for me to figure out to change the result. Ugh, another bummer. I think I'm in that gray place you're in at the moment so pardon my ramblings. I just wanted to tell you that there's another (me) that has thoroughly enjoyed your thinking and your writing. If you don't mind, I think I'll follow you :)

  11. crap, that was supposed to read "In FACT, on Marge's post....". I really need to reread and fix. But like you said, it takes too much time.

  12. OneGirl - The train is great - very restful, and yet one feels one is DOING something. Bring a blanket, though. Funny you think it goes fast - When I am on it, it seems to crawl. I think you should accept your uncle's invite - a lot of the things keeping you home shouldn't be keeping you there, in my opinion. It might give you a break to see things fdrom a slight distance.

    JennyD - Based on your info, you ARE me - lucky you! And slight plug - I have been writing since 2005 and the bulk of the interesting stuff is on the first blog on Spaces Live. The URL is http://pastdue.spaces.live.com, if you are interested - I can promise you jail, college, a mental institution, love, a date in India with a man who turned out to be married when I got there - all the better parts of a misspent life. The most biographical and best stuff is at the beginning I'd say, just in case you care. I think your insight about finally realizing I am mortal is right on. I am looking forward to checking your blog out. To start with, your taste is impeccable(!) and I really thank you for the complimentary comment. And, I think I actually READ 'fact' when you wrote 'face' because I didn't get that 'huh?' feeling...

  13. David, I just saw your note to me on my little page, and fella, you just tore me up! I LIKE you! This is going to be so much fun. What an absolute DELIGHT you are. Lol, as I grin in the mirror (just kidding, I'm not that bad, just an off the wall sense of humor). I was over at WLS for years, too, and I can hardly bring myself to even look at it anymore. It's like a tomb. I dl's my old blogs and just kept them in the zip folder. For what, I don't know, unless I happen to live for 200 more years because of that wish I made on a lantern years ago. Anyway, I'm rambling, so I'll quit for now. I am SO happy we are following each other and how great is that that we "get" each other! xxx

  14. (%*%$*%)cursing under my breath. maybe you won't see the "I dl's" LOLLLLLL

  15. I just came back from Gaelic Wife's page and read your comment on holidays. Damn, you ARE me. This is so spooky.

  16. David, you and Ms. Keaton have summed up the one thing which has at once propelled me into a whirlwind of paring-down of nonessentials and prevented me from doing other things which ARE in fact, essential.

    I hate to say this, but one of the things I do--and I am not proud of this--is I do not remember names of most people I meet casually. It's a self-protective device I use to keep from getting to close to people, thereby eliminating a lot of potential hurt. I have a patchy history with friendship, you see, and it's only been in recent years I've come to realise that insulated does not always equal safety. In fact, being thus buffered from complexities of relationships gets damned lonely.

    But that is neither here nor there; this is your blog and I shouldn't hijack your space by rambling so. I'm just sharing a little slice of my life because I suspect you have dined on that same sad pastry a time or two in your life. If I am being presumptuous, please accept my apology.

    I mean well; really, I do.

    I happen to enjoy your writing, as well; you make me smile. You make me nod in agreement. Most important, you also make me think.

    I should do more of that.

    Please keep toasty; the days are going to get a lot colder before they get warmer again...