Thursday, August 21, 2008

Settling back in to the blogosphere

It's been a while since I've blogged, and I have to say — a bit ashamedly — that I've enjoyed the break. Blogging should be fun and even cleansing, in a way.

My past blogs — and Green Gal — started out fun, but eventually became things I felt obligated to write rather than things I really wanted to write. SP was always done for a grade, but I did enjoy it. It was a great experience and a subject that I was and am very interested in, although I would have loved to have been less objective.

Green Gal was born from a class assignment, but I was never graded on it. It was always something I elected to do. However, I wasn't passionate enough about the subject to truly enjoy writing about it day after day. I certainly learned a lot, and have adopted some "green" habits that I am proud of, but honestly... there are only so many things you can say about reusable grocery bags.

I got tired of saying them. I got tired of hunting for new things to write about. I got tired of being called both "holier than thou" and some version of "not green enough." (Somehow I was both...?) I got tired of writing things differently than I normally would have written them because I was afraid of offending this or that person. One of the first things you learn when you start blogging is that there will always be someone who disagrees with you, or is offended, or is just a jerk for no reason. No matter what you write about, people will make mean and/or stupid comments. There are a lot of things people will write as "Anonymous" that they will never say to your face.

As an aspiring writer, I obviously need to have a thick skin. For every negative comment I received on Green Gal, I know I've got about a thousand more coming to me throughout my future (fingers crossed) career. But what I've realized is that I can handle negative comments if I really believe in what I wrote in the first place. I am passionate about my political positions, but my "green-ness" is a different story. Obviously I think we should all be more conscious of the resources we use and work on re-using more often, but it's not my life. And I really didn't like being confined to writing about the topic of green living.

So this blog is mostly for me. I'm not writing it for a grade, I'm not writing it to be read by thousands of people, and I'm not writing to to please anyone else. I'm writing it to help myself reflect and to look forward. I'm writing it to organize my thoughts and to make plans. I'm writing it for the sake of writing, just because I love doing it. And, honestly, I'm writing because I'm out of practice and I'm afraid I won't remember what to do when school starts again. OK, that's not entirely true, but it doesn't hurt to get back into the habit of writing.

I won't be focusing on anything in particular in this blog. When I was trying to come up with a title for it, I looked around my room to find something that could help define me. Instead, I spotted a quote that has resonated with me, and that I have had taped to my bedroom mirror for a while now: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Although the blog is called Answering Oliver, I'm not actually trying to come up with any concrete answers for Mary Oliver, who came up with that quote. It's more about identifying the way I want to live my life. I don't want to end up living a safe, buttoned-up, overly cautious and practical life. Clearly one needs to be somewhat cautious and practical to survive, but that is just the basic definition of living — breathing, sleeping, eating.

I want to figure out how to be alive. Alive in the sense that I can feel the blood coursing through my veins for a purpose. Alive in the sense that I can close my eyes and feel the sun on my face, go running just for the hell of it, wake up with a smile on my face and be ridiculously excited for another day.

It sounds incredibly cliched and idealistic, I know. And on a more pessimistic day, I would scoff at myself like you may be scoffing now. But every time I read some article about a person who lived their life extraordinarily, I feel lacking.

For instance, I just read something about a woman who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in her 20's, but she lived the rest of her life like mad and made it count. She made a list of 41 life goals long before she ever got sick and kept it in her wallet. Number 40 said, "Be alive." Number 41 said, "Be really alive."

I don't want to wait for the death of a loved one or a grim diagnosis to shock me into living a life that counts. It's hard to live every day like it's your last when you're healthy, and it's so easy to be resentful and angry about things that are so inconsequential in the end. I'm going to give it a shot, though. I'm going to try to do better.

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

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