“Blogs as History,” or “Love letters to the Lost.”

26 Jun

People ask me why I write what I do. I ask myself that same question, each day. I could easily exclaim that I love controversy, and I love “stirring up the pot,” but in part, I think I’m caught up in the huge phenomenon that keeping an “online journal” has become.

Where else can the “common Joe” vent and rant, in the attempt at sharing his existence with those around him, on a global scale? After all, ten minutes after I hit “send,” I’m “living large,” in Beijing, Moscow, London, New York, and Rio De Janeiro, without a shot, a visa, or Homeland Security trying to crawl up my butt…

How else could one possibly educate, accumulate fame, and perhaps even earn a dollar, by exposing his or her life to the scrutiny of the entire planet?

I cannot speak for everybody, but I suspect I have an “entertainer” dwelling within me somewhere. At some level, the teacher I sought to be and the cut-up I portrayed in school combined in some cosmic black-hole incident, and they became irrevocably smashed together, atoms so entwined that the best of surgeons couldn’t separate them.

But the simple truth is that I like telling stories. And yes, the majority of them are even true. 🙂

While most of the stuff you’re reading here is completely, and sometimes painfully true, some of it is completely made up. Some of it is an enticing blend of fact and imagination, with the recipe tended depending on my mood, current state of exhaustion (thanks, Joshua!), and estimation of what makes a story that the gullible among you will find entertaining…

Like Samuel Clemens, or Ernest Hemingway, I’m not going to let the facts get in the way of a good story. Some stories are too good not to be true, and they create their own reality. Let’s face it, there are some really, really, big fish out there.

(Now, I’ll usually give you clues that I’m pulling your leg, but if you miss them, then… it’s all on you.)

But like Hercules, Robin Hood, and even Captain Ahab, we all want to matter. As we weep for one, and jeer another, the fact of the matter is that we’re in it with them, even if they aren’t “real.” We tell our children “fairy tales,” that become as real as the puppy that greets them at the foot of the stairs each morning. And our belief in “them,” validates those characters, and makes them as “real,” as us.

It’s in this “land of inbetween,” that we all blossom. We can overcome any trial, we can succeed in spite of those who would watch us fail, and we can hold our heads up, and roar with delight, just for the sheer joy of it. In the “land of inbetween,” we grow. And we all secretly desire to continue growing, to “make our mark,” despite our pleas of innocence.

Here’s where it gets tricky… For our lives and our fragile realities to continue after we have shuffled off this rock we call home, we must engineer some ability to prove our existence mattered, or, at the very least, to have it be remembered.

Men named Gates, and Buffett have an easy time of it. Their fate is secured in history with the endowments they make to charitable foundations, or buildings they erect (named after themselves, naturally) as monuments to their “worth.”  It’s a lesson learned from the dance of ancient kings, and mankind benefits to it’s tune. Great civic monuments abound, plastered with “name and deed,” to make certain no one forgets.

(On a much smaller scale, I suspect that we exercise our egos by naming children after ourselves, as “So-and so the 2nd, or “So-and-so Junior,” and carve the names on the headstones of our fallen, for the same reason.)

After all, an unmarked grave just begs to become one of Orwell’s “unpersons,” destined to be erased from history, and washed away by the passing tides of time.

And at the end of the day, exhausted after a days journey into toil and trial, I think that is why we write our journals, and why, more than anything else, we fill them with the intimate details of our lives. We want to contribute to the choir, we want to “matter.”

The Internet has become the “great void,” the place of reckoning beyond reckoning. It’s a repository that will never fade, a vast library of the words of man, held together forever by the laws of physics, enduring to the last vestiges of time. Anything placed there is assured to exist “indefinately, by design.” It’s a matter of redundancy. It’s actually impossible to “lose” information on the Internet. Tapes, Web Servers, Archives, and Search Engine Caches insure that our words, good and bad, will ring out, forever.

Even my wench, my infamous hound and my son Joshua will have the chance to have a durable commemoration that will far outlast the pyramids of even the mightiest Pharaohs. And my lifetime will be defined, like the glyphs on a tomb wall, by the task to complete recording “that world” for posterity.

It’s odd that this box on my desk insures that no matter how feeble I become in old age, I’ll be able to shout “Hey, over here! Look at me! Remember me? I was here once! Look what I can do!”

Alas, I’ll confess one of my primary motivations is to remain a “show-off.” I admit it, I long to bask in my “15 minutes of fame…” And as I don’t expect I’ll be making millions of dollars to build a university wing dedicated to “underwater basket weaving,” or fund a fabulously famous charitable trust, these meager entries, accompanied by a few photographs and drawings, will most likely be all that remain of me a century from now.

I don’t think that’s the prime reason, though. There is another that spurs me to write.

As my life has turned out, I have a daughter (Kaitlyn) that does not live with me, and she hasn’t lived with me for years. And because of difficulties far too complicated to explain here, it is unlikely that we will ever even live in the same state, until she becomes an adult.

I sometimes think of this writing as an extended letter to her, something for her to read (hopefully while and…) after she is grown, as an attempt at an explanation, perhaps even a symphony of heartfelt apologies, for the way the twists and turns of life have taken us away from each other, and hopefully providing a way for her to come to know me in a way that few of us ever get to know our parents.

I had so many dreams about my fatherhood, of being there to help with her homework, to teach her about life, to make her laugh, to play games, to help her through those tough adolescent years, to play music to her, to sing silly songs with her and watch over her into the darkness of the night.

The reality is cruelly different. I watch her life as through a telescope, from afar, and I dream (to the point of tears) that our time together could at least be telescoped into a few days each year around holidays and such, and weekly talks on the phone that would probably do more to drive home the vastness of the gulf that divides us than they do to bridge it.

Perhaps someday this can be that bridge, and I can become more real to her, so that she will not have to resort, as we do in contemplating that long, forgotten fairy tale, to clothing the bare bones of my life with the fanciful flesh of her dreams.

I love you, Kaitlyn. My heart aches for you…

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