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Sunday, August 24, 2008

In the past few weeks, I've (re)discovered that blogging is essentially a rhythmic exercise. It can be likened, I suppose, to something as rudimentary as lifting weights. One can visit a gym and "lift" - but if he or she not lifting the proper weight at the right angle, with the pacing and intensity required, the benefits will be fewer...and if done wrong, a person can actually do harm. In search of a metaphor for why I stepped away from the blog this week - the first sustained break I've taken in four months - didn't come because I was simply breathing heavy after a long workout, basking in an exhaustion borne of fruitful efforts. I've been lifting the wrong weights, with poor form and pacing, for weeks now. And the muscle that I've been seeking to work out has suffered as a result.

When I started this blog, I did so out of pure emotion. Jeremiah Wright had gotten on my last nerve, and the space that I'd set up months previously and had done nothing with suddenly had life. Since I was new to this whole thing, I modeled the blog after other political sites that I'm a fan of, thinking more of fitting in as a way to get myself noticed. I was inconsistent at first, but figured out soon that simply posting smaller items in between longer essays worked as a way to ensure that the blog was always offering something new, something topical to that day's events both in the macro (the world at-large) and the micro (my own life). And that seemed to work.

But it can become a crutch, quoting other posts or articles at length and offering brief rejoinders - and it had lately, resulting largely from a sudden lack of time to devote to longer posts, my weariness at this poll-obsessed, negative-meme-driven campaign for our nation's highest office and a general disinterest in writing for the first time in months. I'd just become sick of it all, and throwing up a blurb about Obama's latest campaign stop, the Olympics or Maureen Dowd's latest column wasn't making it anymore.

Pure emotion driving the majority of my writing here has its pitfalls, and when I lost interest in doing things in the conventional political-blog fashion, it really became pointless to offer my opinion about events that mattered very little to me. If blogging is like going to the gym, throwing stuff up just for the sake of attracting traffic and reminding folks that I'm not dead is like running for 10 minutes, doing five push-ups and then heading to McDonald's for your post-workout meal. No nutrients, nothing earned and growth in all the wrong ways.

I decided that I needn't post again until I really had something to say. Really, isn't that the whole point of writing?

Something else occurred to me during this respite: despite having my privileged education, I'm not nearly as well-versed in the world around me as I need to be in order to have the informed opinion that would inspire both constructive debate and appreciation for my particular worldview. I wasn't proud of the stuff I was putting up. It hit me when I went back to read some of my earlier posts. What had happened?

For one, I'd been listening to all the wrong voices. I haven't read nearly enough books of late, spending much too much time investing myself in the musings of columnists, pundits and other assorted loudmouths whose acerbic take on the world had begun to disillusion me and poison my writing. Part of that has been my now-consistent effort to maintain this page, writing as much as I can when I can, but offering up the musings not just of people whose viewpoints interested me, but also the usual suspects who seemingly everyone had posted on their blogs. Instead of offering a fresh perspective, I was merely following the crowd. That speaks only to laziness on my part.

I listened once again to one of my favorite Stevie Wonder songs, "Feeding Off the Love of the Land" today, in which the master laments how man's narcissism, misuse of prayer and inability to listen to the will of the Lord (much less heed it) robs the true essentials - love, beauty - from the world. It's a song that I think of often when I reflect upon the hazardous political discourse that serves as the mode by which we choose our most important leaders, men and women who truly fit Stevie's description of "fools {who} are even more foolish". But even in that kind of cynicism, I only repeat mistakes that I've been making with this blog. By falling in line with that discourse and bringing nothing unique to offer a more healthy alternative, my presence (however small) in the blogosphere had become more problematic than helpful.

So, as I continue to use this blog as a place to revive a muscle that had been largely dormant for over a decade, I will be more judicious with how I work that muscle out. To paraphrase Jerry Maguire, there'll be fewer posts, less news here at 1,369 lightbulbs. This is not to say I won't post the occasional YouTube that makes me laugh, or the random sports item that doesn't necessarily move forward the great national discourse about a particular pressing item of our time. But I consider the right to voice my opinion and inspire debate a gift from the Creator, and I pray that He grants me to ability to be increasingly disciplined in my use of that voice.

Perhaps I might add something after all.


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