Salt and Seed
A Blogger Against Blogging
I grant, however, that most women have found healthier ways to integrate their past selves into the present, and that most mothers' thoughts about old photos of their kids are somewhat less morbid and bombastic. Still, the notion of blogging to preserve experience for the future troubles me. For one thing, this kind of blogging directs the mind toward a fantasy of the future or an idealization of the past, and away from the present moment, the beating heart and the falling breath. In fact it doubly re-routes the mind: forward to an imagined remembrance of the past. The present becomes merely an instrumental passage through time, a means to a deferred happy end, rather than the gracefully given, gratefully received substance of life itself. The temporal separation of mind from body is a close cousin to anxiety. I don't think it's coincidental that so many women experience anxiety in connection with blogging: it's the natural consequence of living with one's future head in the past.
There's a deeper problem with blogging as an exercise in saving for the future, and that's the kind of future it necessarily presumes. Behind the drive to save for the future lurks an assumption that the future holds scarcity and deprivation. This is a prudent assumption to make when one is setting up one's retirement account, no doubt. But when it governs our emotional lives it breeds fear that blinds us to the fullness of the very present we are so desperate to preserve. On the one hand, this is an entirely natural fear, especially for women as we undergo the seismic emotional shifts that come from aging into and out of fertility and desirability. But it is also, when you think about it, an attitude of profound faithlessness: the expectation that the simple continuation of life and breath, the particular grace and givenness of every new day, will not be enough to sustain us on its own; that joy and meaning must come in the forms we prefer, even if we can only glimpse them in electronic images. No: this, not the fleeting babyhoods of our children, is the true emotional poverty we should fear. Here are words I wish I had written: "Only a fearless and faithful submission to the givenness of the present moment in its entirety opens the way to a world in which goodness can live."
What this amounts to, I suppose, is a weak manifesto against blogging, or perhaps nothing but self-justification for my own failure to preserve my children's lives in word and image. Only a weak manifesto, however: I need something to read as I procrastinate writing my column, after all. And I don't want to make the 23rd century's Laurel Thatcher UIrich cry in despair over the scarcity of source material.
More than that, though, it's a notion of faith that has little to do with believing the right things, and much more to do with paying attention to the right things. Paying attention to the now, trusting that the now of the future will be a gift as full, as precious, as particular as the now of today. This, too, is a spiritual gift. (And I just blogged about it.)
Rosalynde Welch is an independent scholar who makes her home in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and four children.