Wednesday, August 16, 2006
( 8:17 AM )
I have been dropping in on some of my favorite blogs that I didn't have a chance to keep up with in the last half year of my "sabbatical" - and I was sad to see that Notes on the Atrocities is shutting down. But as I read Jeff's explanations about why he was deciding to stop blogging it really hit a chord with me.
I'm throwing in the towel because it's not good for my mental health. This past week, on the Buddhist retreat, we practiced the most basic form of meditation--putting the attention on the breath as a way of calming the mind. It predates Buddhism and has been practiced by most religious communities for thousands of years. I've been a practicing Buddhist for 7 years, and in that time, I've never seen the level of my mind's inattention get as bad as it is now. It's an index--and a pretty good one--of where one's mental health is. Blogging isn't the only factor, but it's a central contributor. Moreover, it's far from essential--I don't have to blog to feed myself. I can't cut back on all the things that jeopardize my mental health, but blogging is expendable.
This hits home for me because in the last year I have been slowly learning about and beginning the practices of the middle way of buddhism and I realize that it is that clutter in the mind that so often brings you to that 2nd of the Four Truths: the reason people suffer is because they constantly want what they don't have. It is easy to see how blogging can lend itself to this clutter. I think I felt that last year and when I gave it up in December, having every inention of the break being only a few weeks, I did not realize how much I did not need it until I let it go.
Now that I am back blogging, it is not a necessity for me anymore. I definitely missed it and I sometimes pine for being a dynamic part of the ol blogging circle - but I think that's a symptom of the same thing we all have: that need to be a part of something bigger. But the real truth is that I am part of something bigger that is real. Being a mama, being a teacher, being a participant in my community, being a friend. These tangible things are what not only enrich our lives but can actually be done contemplatively. This is what I'm learning about practicing that middle way: if you cannot do something or be something with your full awareness then it is only sapping you of your full self. And I have not found a way I can contemplatively blog. Therein lies the twist.
So blogging for me has changed its nature, but it has also become something to learn to savor and enjoy rather than feel pulled to and obligated to. I also agree with Notes that bloggers are definitely the way forward for the Democratic party to return to its progressive roots.
Blogs are that medium and I think they're the main reason the Democratic party has begun to veer left after all these years--and will keep veering left if bloggers do their work. Bloggers are canaries in the coalmine--we speak for the people. Eventually, the country will follow and we'll move away from the madness of the neocon precipice.
I'm proud that I was part of the little wave that began way back when haloscan was the comment format on Daily Kos and before Atrios had even mentioned Trent Lott. But I'm more proud that in that same time I've raised an infant into a cool little boy, I've put myself through grad school and I've become a high school social studies teacher. Keeping perspective is definitely a habit worth practicing. I'd like to thank Notes for giving that to me today.