The past few days I’ve been mulling over my attachment to having readers for this blog. It’s such a funny conflict that rises up in my mind: I don’t want anyone I know to read this blog, yet I desperately want someone I know to read this blog. I don’t need anyone out there to read this blog, and yet I desperately want someone out there to be reading this blog…everyday…
My husband and I had another discussion last night regarding the way we’ve structured our time. We talked about my meditation and blogging practice, and he once again observed that I’m away so often during the night that we have little time to be together. He asked if he should construct a graph illustrating his point. I told him that I’m a visual learner, so a graph might be helpful.
I spoke in defense of my practice, and even when he said, “I haven’t noticed any changes [in the three years you’ve been meditating]” I was able to remain calm and point out that in the absence of my practice, I might have been a thousand times worse than I am right now, and there is no way of knowing. And when I say “worse” I’m talking about my mood fluctuations, my reactivity, my depression. I told him that I was reasonably certain that had it not been for this blog, and my daily observation of my moods and my behaviors as a result of those moods, I probably wouldn’t have started taking anti-depressant medication. It is because of this blog, and the evidence that I have gathered in the daily recounting of my story, that I saw the need to make some big changes, and seek help to make those changes possible. I shared this with him. I told him that this blog was possible because of my meditation practice, that through my seated practice I have been able to develop the will and the discipline to show up for it daily, through pregnancy, labor, and the early days, weeks, months, and years of my son’s life. My husband said there have been no changes since I began my daily practice, but I see it differently. It can be summed up this way: No meditation, no blog. No blog, no meds. No changes? I disagree.
The mood was somber as we left our conversation hanging to clear the table of our dinner dishes; it was the end of the day and both of us were exhausted. We hadn’t reached any kind of real resolution between us, but as I went up to meditate, it struck me how my holding myself accountable for my practice has given rise to a certain inner strength that will permit me to continue practicing, especially through tough moments. My meditation (and now my blog) practice is so well-established that there is no question in my mind that I will sit, that I will write. It has become as important and as familiar as brushing my teeth, a part of my daily mental and spiritual hygiene.
The accountability piece is a little different with this blog, I’m discovering. Whereas meditation is an entirely internal, private practice, this blog–being published in the public domain–is open to anyone out there in cyber space who comes to read it, or stumbles upon it because I did some proper tagging. And here is where I’m getting a little hung up, and also a little excited–there’s the conflict again. I started this blog at the new year telling myself that it was a project for me, and I decided that there would be no pressure to create any kind of universally applicable content. I wanted to help myself, not save the world, which has been a goal of mine ever since I can remember, and which remains unfulfilled because I haven’t yet saved myself. This blog happened because I wanted to know myself better, to discover how I can be as disciplined in my writing as I have been in my meditation. “Meh, I don’t need readers,” I told myself,“I just need to hold myself accountable, show up and write. And it doesn’t matter what I write, as long as I write something.”
And then I started receiving messages that so and so was following my blog. I have been truly surprised each time I get such a notification. Really? Now I have an audience? Then the pressure to say something witty or meaningful began to arise from the depths of the little girl who wants to impress the people around me, who wants them to like me, who wants to prove her worth somehow…and I started writing with my audience in mind. What will they think? Is this post too long? Am I being self-serving? Is this boring? Does it make sense? Is it worth their time to read this? Is it worth my time to write this?
The gift in all of this questioning points to accountability…in the moments when I’m feeling tired at the end of the night and unsure that I have the motivation to write something partially meaningful, I imagine my audience– sometimes just one or two people who I know follow this blog regularly–and envisioning them reading this, I hold myself accountable to make sense, at least a little. To proofread so that there aren’t too many distracting errors. To care, because they care enough to read my jibber jabber.
So to all of you out there who are actually reading this, THANK YOU. You are helping me to stay accountable, to recommit to this practice every day. I truly appreciate your care and your kindness. It is so powerful to be seen and heard. Thank you.
PS. I wrote this beginning at 7am. Now I don’t have to worry about fitting my writing practice in later! And I’m amazed at how much easier it is to jot some lines down (can you “jot” on a keyboard?) when it’s morning and my mind is fresh. Yay, another helpful discovery.