I’m part of the class of 2012. Five months of writing and blogging, and someone called me a seasoned blogger. That surprised me, as I still think of myself as a beginner, but since the posts have now racked up to fifty plus, I suppose I am seasoned.
I still look with awe at archives that have the magic number 11 on them, and am even more impressed with archives that go back years. What commitment, what hard work, what character and persistence!
The longer I blog, the deeper my understanding of this extraordinary phenomena becomes. It’s a new world which is developing, and establishing its own conventions and customs inside WordPress’s intelligent frame work. Bloggers find their own communities of like minds, and at the same time we stray across the boundaries to visit other small villages in the blogosphere.
I now know who to go to for hilarious blogs, and sardonic wit and humour, who will soothe my soul with the sweetness of animal life and farmy rituals, who’ll give me the inside running on events that are shaking the world today, and who’ll remind me of historic events, past and recent, that I’d almost forgotten. I know where to go to find out about fashion, and there’s that refuge for dreamers, the blogs with beautiful interiors, and the glorious recipes for foodies like me. There’s music and art, history and travel.
I know who to go to for photos of beauty and extraordinary depth and soul, and likewise for poetry which plunges deep and stirs the heart. There are the moving stories of lives overcoming incredible odds, and the accounts from others of making a difference in various parts of the planet. I live vicariously in France, in Spain, in Cornwall and Hampshire, in Colorado and Florida, Hawaii and Mexico, Canada and Nova Scotia, Melbourne and New York.
This is the magic world that only those with the courage to enter it discover, unknowing of the challenges of time and commitment. In Joseph Campbell’s lingo, we are the heroes on the hero’s journey creating a new world, and we have no idea where this new concept of planetary connection and friendship is taking us.
Will we one day be able to look back and see that we were the pioneers for the new consciousness; the global village where we all care about each other, and know that when we pollute or exploit our corner of the globe, it will impact on everyone else, and our planet too. Will we be the first hundred monkeys to wash our potatoes? (Everyone knows the hundred monkey story, don’t they, when a few monkeys start washing the sand off their potatoes, and when it reaches a hundred monkeys, suddenly everyone does?)
When I look back at my first posts, I can see how much blogging has helped me to improve my writing. This is mainly because the blogging world offers encouragement and acceptance. A study in Vienna in the thirties in which groups of children were either encouraged all the time, criticised all the time, or received the normal see-saw of encouragement and criticism that most people get, produced interesting results.
The work of the criticised group deteriorated and fell behind the level they had previously reached, they had become so discouraged. The half and half group made normal progress. The group who only received encouragement streaked ahead, enjoyed their work, and produced great results.
So the unstinting encouragement that we bloggers receive from each other has a powerful outcome. It gives us the confidence to write from our hearts directly and honestly without fearing we will be put down, criticised or rejected. I know that I’m writing much more spontaneously now because I have the confidence given to me by other bloggers.
‘Likes’ and ‘comments’ are the joy of a blogger’s life, especially when it’s the sort of remark or comment that pushes the blog a bit further. Writing is only the one half of blogging – the response, the understanding and the interpretation – completes the act of creation, rounds out the concepts, and the writer and the reader are a symbiotic partnership in a way that readers of a newspaper or even a book never experience.
And unlike a newspaper, our blogs stick around, people go on reading them when we’ve moved onto the next posts, while the joke in newspapers is that today’s story will be wrapping the rubbish tomorrow. So blogs are a halfway house between the longevity of a book and the ephemeral life of a newspaper.
Bloggers enter the lives of their fellows with courtesy and sensitivity. There’s such good manners and kindness in all the comments I read – witty, pithy, but never any word that steps over the line. Rather, there’s a concern for the well-being of each other, and support for those who are facing challenges, however the challenges may come. So we are reaching deeper levels of respect and compassion, sensitivity and insight into other cultures and communities. I’m sure we all had these qualities already, but blogging seems to exercise them daily.
So I’m a blogger, and I feel a bit like a bodger. In another post I mentioned bodging… a bodger was a craftsman who carved the legs of chairs in the woods in England, a hundred years ago and more. He worked alone in the beechwood, perfecting his skills, and that’s how it feels for me, sitting in my remote little fishing village in the Antipodes, finding the right words to express as accurately and truly and beautifully as I can, what I want to say.
I feel I’m a bodger too, a craftsman working alone. But I don’t feel alone- for the craft of blogging reaches out into the lives of all those other kindred spirits and great hearts around our beautiful planet. Namaste – I honour you all.
Food for Threadbare Gourmets
Friends are dropping in mid-morning on their way north for the holiday weekend, so it’ll be hot scones and strawberry jam to have with their coffee. For four of us I use eight oz self raising flour and about three oz of butter rubbed in like pastry. Beat an egg into a few tablesps of milk, plus a pinch of salt, and use this to make the dough. If you need more milk, just add a little as you need it. Don’t bother to roll it out, just quickly drop the dough on the bread board, and with as little handling as possible shape it into a flattish round or square about an inch and a half thick.
I then simply cut it into squares, instead of bothering with a pastry cutter. Put the little blobs of scone mix onto a buttered floured baking tray, cover and leave in the fridge for half an hour. Just before the guests are due, I pop them in a hot oven, and they cook in about fifteen minutes. I take them out when they still have very little colour, because they are so light at that stage.
Eaten hot with butter, strawberry jam and whipped cream, they always disappear in double quick time. If there should happen to be any left over, I slice them in half and fry them with bacon for the old chap’s breakfast. You can add sugar, cheese, sultanas, herbs, whatever you fancy. But I don’t feel you can improve on the classic scone.
Food for Thought
Suddenly from behind the rim of the moon, in long, slow-motion moments of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light, delicate sky-blue sphere laced with slowly swirling veils of white, rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery.
It takes more than a moment to fully realise this is Earth … home.
Edgar Mitchell from ‘The Home Planet’, Astronaut, born 1930