There’s a great book by Rachel Joyce, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Harold, a sixty-something retired man, leaves his house in England one day with no other intention than to mail a letter to a former co-worker who is dying of cancer in a hospice at the northern end of the country. Harold passes the mailbox, deciding to walk directly to the post office, instead. He passes the post office. He keeps walking. You get the picture. Months later, he arrives at the hospice, having walked 600 miles.
I’m not Harold Fry, but I find myself in a place I never intended to get to when I began. When I started writing this blog, my initial thought was “This is way easier than writing a book.” I’ve written books, and I’ve marketed books. Writing a book isn’t like Harold Fry’s journey. Writing a book has a clear goal from the get go. Harold Fry’s journey was taken one day at a time, sometimes one step at a time. Like that old joke: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Each post feels like a bite.
When I started the blog, I had a few things to say. Maybe a dozen or so. I wanted to write about the world through a boomer’s lens. My posts would include real life issues that boomers face, as well as my reaction to the world as a boomer. A lot of people think we think that we are the best generation to come along. They think that we think we had the best music, created the best era, and changed the world forever. They think we are filled with ourselves and our power because we toppled a President and ended a war. I don’t think we are any better than any generation that came before us. But I do think we have had enormous influence. And I think we are changing the face of aging, if not the reality.
My first posts were read by almost nobody, since I didn’t tell people I knew that I was writing anything. As people out there found me and started reading, I was pleasantly surprised. When I was Freshly Pressed the first time, I was blown away. It didn’t take long for me to become obsessed with my stats. And once obsessed, no stats, no matter how good, would satisfy. That’s simply the definition of obsession.
So I did my own cold turkey, my own 12 step program. It worked. I don’t concern myself anymore about the stats. I don’t care whether 20 people or 200 people read my blog on any given day. I don’t care how many thousands of people follow me.
There are two things that are important to me. I care about writing to make a point, not to just take up space. And I answer every single comment that people make. When anyone takes a moment out of his or her over-scheduled and/or under-appreciated day to read and to comment on anything I’ve written, that person deserves to know that I am honored and that I value their input.
If I were to look over the 500 posts I’ve written, I’d probably want to rewrite about 480 of them. I’d seriously regret having written another 10 of them. The last 10 would make me smile and reaffirm to me that I’m not half-bad as a writer.
I’ve learned that if you make fun of people who have wreaked serious havoc on the planet, people laugh. But if you make fun of popular musicians, many people don’t like it one bit. Writing about the Kardashians and Justin Beiber is too easy. Writing about injustice isn’t.
Occasionally, I drop the humor entirely and I get serious. The most satisfaction I’ve had is writing about real people who have inspired me. They are people who are unknown in the general population. Some are people I came across out in the world. Others are friends of mine who have passed on. I consider it an honor that I was able to say what I wanted to say about them, because I was not able to say it to them.
I can’t stay serious for long. Or rather, I couch my barbs in humor. There is entirely too much going on in the world right now that would have me shrieking into the night, unless I can protect myself with a cloak of satire. I would hope that readers, while they are smiling at my words, can detect the message behind the humor.
At this moment, I have no idea what post #501 will look like. But I’m pretty sure that I will create yet one more wacky experience in my life that I will want to share, or the world will provide me something to spew about, albeit in my passive-aggressive, sarcastic way. Either way, stay tuned for #501.