Sheesh. It’s so quiet here. Just a quiet, sporadic drip of blood falling to the ground.
I didn’t manage a single post for the month of April. It’s only the second such quiet month since I started blogging in 2005 — but also the second out of the last six. Clearly, there’s a downward trend in my blogging.
I’ve been trying to figure out why I don’t write here very often, any more. Or use other forms of social media, for that matter. It’s kind of strange that I would go from such prolific posting (and consumption) to such quietude. Am I depressed? Disillusioned? Extra-busy or extra-bored? I’ve been contemplating this over the last week, and it actually seems like there are a number of different factors that have contributed to the long, slow bleed of my blog.
- I’m closer to my closest people. My wife, my children, my parents, my oldest friends… All of these close relationships now reside within a one-mile radius of my house. The previous list doesn’t include all of my closest relationships, but still… My early blogging had something of a reporting function that’s just not needed as much, when I’m seeing so many of my closest people on a regular basis.
- Things are changing at a different pace, at this phase in my life. I’ve settled into a familiar rhythm in a familiar environment. In addition, my kids are in a more complicated stage of development, which doesn’t lend itself to as many quick, cute anecdotes. My kids are also more conscious and verbal, telling their own stories, so I don’t feel as desperate to collect those stories for them.
- I’ve found other outlets for story-telling. I maintain a personal journal. I talk with friends while running or sharing a meal. I manage a number of staff and interns, often using my personal experiences as points of comparison and contrast. Sometimes, I’m even asked to give workshops at ministry conferences! I have places for my words and my stories that didn’t exist ten years ago, in the zenith of my blogging.
- I’ve gained editorial responsibilities for other story-telling outlets. This isn’t a huge burden, but sometimes instead of telling my own stories, I’m helping others shape theirs. H2O’s blog, The Stream, is the most obvious example, where various people from our church submit stories illuminating their spiritual journey at Kent State University. In addition to that, though, I feel like others regularly seek out my help in crafting their written communications. It’s a good development, I think, but I’ve noticed it does take away some zeal for my own written communications.
- I’ve developed other hobbies that take my time and energy. Running is an especially obvious activity that didn’t occupy any space in my life until three and a half years ago. But it’s not just that. I feel like I also spend a lot of time watching my kids’ sporting events and musical performances. I have a larger home and yard to maintain. I have cable television covering American sports I enjoy to watch. All these different activities — plus others — choke out the time I used to commit to blogging.
- The desktop computer in our family’s home is less available to me than it used to be. This one seems silly, given my access to campus computer labs and personal mobile devices, but I think it’s a genuine factor. All three of my kids (but especially the two in middle school) regularly need to use our desktop computer for their homework. Marci’s graduate school and work also necessitate hours behind the computer in our home office. I don’t resent it; I just notice it.
- I’ve gotten a lot of my most meaningful stories out of my system. In particular, I believe that a significant act of catharsis occurred when writing my 75,000-word “Requiem for a Zolder” over the course of last year’s sabbatical. For years, I felt like I had a bunch of stories bottled up inside of me, and I never had the time or space to get them out on paper — until that six-month period in which writing was a primary focus. Years ago, I felt desperate for others to see, and know, and appreciate what was happening in and through me in Amsterdam, but ironically, now that I’ve gotten those stories out of my system — where at least I’m able to access them, as needed — I don’t feel much of a need for others to read them. At least not yet.
- I’ve become less concerned with immediacy and more concerned with the bigger picture. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that it sometimes takes decades to discover what really happened in a given situation. Blogging and social media are not suited to provide such perspective– and they may even be inclined to cloud such perspective, with a rush to judgment. I recently re-read a favorite book called “Through Gates of Splendor.” It told a story that took place over the course of about three years, with an epilogue written two years later. But then I discovered that there was a second epilogue written forty years later, and this second epilogue provided insight that actually revealed the first epilogue to be misguided. Isn’t that likely to be the case with my life and ministry, as well? I feel myself being more mindful of these long-term, big-picture dynamics these days.
Does this mean I’m done with blogging? I don’t think so. I’m still not ready to shutter this site. But I do recognize that things change, for better, for worse.
I actually expect that my blogging will ramp up a bit over the coming months, as our family travels and some of the aforementioned dynamics revert for awhile. But long-term, I’m still not sure what will happen.
That’s OK. I’ll keep you posted.