|"Happiness to the people through swift and unfailing communication." |
This is the courthouse in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.
by Kay Ryan
Not scattered legions,
not a dozen from
a single region
for whom accent
matters, not a seven-
not five shirttail
one free citizen--
maybe not alive
will know with
that only we two
ever found this room.
* * *
I think this is to be my last post on Flakedoves. I have decided this for a lot of reasons, the most obvious being that, these days, I cannot seem to keep up with blogging regularly. Also I have started a part-time job at the school my girls will soon be attending. The job is minimal because the hours are very part-time, but I find myself already so inspired and devoted to the school that I can tell I am going to freely give a lot of my energy to this place in the coming years. I am already certain that I want my girls to continue their elementary education there for as long as possible. The best way to ensure that they will do this is for me to continue working there, and the beautiful thing is that I am sincerely--deep in my bones-- delighted at that prospect. The pattern of my life has been to situate myself on the fringes of institutions, eyeballing them from the sidelines with skepticism, and only giving them the bare minimum of my energy. Institutions turn me parsimonious. But I can already tell that my relationship to this little school is different. I feel myself opening up to it in a real, powerful, and sincere way that makes me want to untie whatever sack of gifts that I may have been hoarding and run through the hallways, doling them out like St. Nicholas' bags of silver. I am not saying that I know exactly what this means or where it will lead, but for now I feel that I am turning in a different direction than what my life has been for the last seven years since first becoming a mother. A sea change seems to be underfoot.
In the second place, I think it is time to admit to myself that my writing here has grown a little stale lately. This was never a mama blog but it was a blog that grew organically alongside the particular circumstance of being at home with babies, in a rather cramped space. I never set out to write about babies, per se (although I certainly did quite a bit), but was rather on the hunt for a spare room. When my babies were still babies I was living in a 550 square foot apartment and the idea of a little space apart-- maybe an entirely white room with nothing in it but a single printed poem--compelled me toward Flakedoves each week. So Poetry Wednesday became my bread and butter for a while. To steal an idea that was presented in my recent session of staff/teacher training at my girls' new school, I present a quote: "A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul." Goethe said this; my experience says it is real and true.
I guess the only other thing I would mention in this my swan song (hopefully it is clear that I am using swan song facetiously) is that blogging has been useful to me developmentally. I was always pretty shy and timid about my writing in my twenties and blogging has given me a sort of practice audience to grow accustomed to being read and shed layers of that shyness. Here and there the feedback I have gotten has done wonders for me. But ten years of practice is a long time. After a decade I think it is fair for me to ask myself how much I am using my blog to hide behind a screen of partial anonymity, avoid the hard work of preparing writing pieces for actual publication, over a long period of time, and to also avoid ever having to sign my real name to anything (see partial anonymity).
I'm concluding at this point that Flakedoves has simply outlived its usefulness in my life. I started here like a calf on wobbly newborn legs, aimlessly, and at times reached a good canter here in my little fenced in area. But I know, and have always known, that my blog will never enter into the high stakes horse races that blogging has become (which it was not when I began in 2004). For me this has always been just a white room, a small green field. Friends would sometimes meet me here.
I took the above photo in downtown Asheville, North Carolina, this summer. I was both amused and bemused at the engraving, which seems an odd selection for a public building. I can only speak for myself, but swift and unfailing communication is not a particular source of happiness for me. There are people on Facebook who, though I like them just fine in person, are so bombastic and opinionated on Facebook that their relentless political posting makes me feel mentally bludgeoned. Lately I have been reflecting a lot on how to stay in touch with the world while protecting myself from feverish overexposure. I am pretty sure there is no perfect way to do this, but at least for keeping up with the news I finally settled on the BBC World Service Global News podcast. It updates every twelve hours, "with a selection of highlights," is about twenty to thirty minutes, and is so well-produced that I would say it is a pleasure to listen to except that, as everyone knows well, the news itself is unfathomably bad. But this is all to say that I have an easily overwhelmed mind and soul that can only take in so much communication, swift and unfailing as it is these days. Maybe I just need the Keep Calm and Carry On approach of the British to keep me from feeling like chicken little under a falling sky. Otherwise, how can I be expected to stand at my kitchen sink and wash out watercolor pallets for first, second, and third graders?
So this communications thing is tricky for me and I think that going forward I will be trying to figure things out for myself--manage things mindfully. Part of the complication is that I know by now that I am a natural-born communicator. In one way or another, whether dumping into a Word doc on my computer that no one will read, or blabbing about nothing on my blog, I will communicate, and again I say communicate. But I am growing increasingly intolerant of and sensitive to the noisy way in which our world communicates nowadays, less and less inclined to contribute to that noise. Blogging seems a little noisy to me, especially for one who started blogging as a way of finding a quiet room--the ideal audience. Plus, I find that my ability to synthesize life just needs a wider arc these days than what a weekly deadline provides. I need more time than that to think, to process. I think this is why I need to get away from blogging for some time. Maybe I will discover that my talents for communication do not really extend anywhere beyond it, but I need to at least test them out in some other format before another ten years pass me by.