I began this blog five years ago, in July 2012. It’s been a wild ride, and I’ve loved every minute of it. My first post earned me one “like” and no comments, and now I have over 9000 followers, mostly due to being “Freshly Pressed” three times.
Still, it’s humbling.
When you start blogging it’s like tapping out a weak signal into a vast universe wondering if there’s anyone out there listening who will pick up and respond.
You feel small and alone at first, but powerful too, like that first explorer setting out into the wilderness, not knowing what you will find there, if anything at all.
And then you get your first ping back, a response. That’s all it takes. You’re not alone after all. Someone is listening, someone like you, and community of like-minded adventurers is formed. Your little spacecraft has a purpose, and a grounding (a following), as you zip through cyberspace exploring what’s out there.
The purpose of this blog, as I wrote about in my first post , has not changed much, although the emphasis has shifted over time.
“I created this blog to explore what it means to be living on the edge of the wild.
We all are, in some way, living on the edge of the wild, either literally or figuratively, whether we know it or not. We all are standing at the edge of some great unknown, exploring what it means to be human in a more-than-human universe.
We encounter the “wild” not only in the natural world, but in ourselves and our daily lives, if only in our own strange dreams, our own unruly minds and rebellious bodies, our own inscrutable families and weird and wonderful pets.
We encounter the “wild” at the edges of science, the arts, and human consciousness.”
I started out with a series of “Sea Sagas” about when we went sailing around the world, most posts on the why and how of it, not getting very far in our journey, and I’d like to get back to that again.
The wildest, bravest, and most romantic thing I’ve ever done was to fully embrace my boyfriend’s dream of sailing around the world and make it my own.
In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s why I married him.
I also wrote a lot about the art and craft of writing, and my own writing experience. The two-part series about writing with Annie Dillard is one of my and my followers’ favorites.
When I look at the things I write about, that I’m drawn to write about, that seize me, here’s what I see, what I’m drawn to explore:
The gap between appearance and reality; between what’s real and what’s not, and how we can ever truly know for sure. If it’s possible at all.
The dark and the light, good and evil, beauty and brutality, the foolish and profound: how they play together, how they are all wound up in each other, how it’s almost impossible to tear them apart, as least in our ordinary, daily experiences. They lay side by side, or one on top of the other; they copulate over and over, and we, this life itself, is what they give birth to.
Some of my most “viewed” posts explore those darker edges of human consciousness. Hardly a day goes by where the following post does not get several views:
A Deer’s Scream – Beauty and Brutality at Home and in the Hills of Vietnam
The most horrifying sound I’ve ever heard came one night soon after we moved here. A scream of pure terror that seemed to last forever.
Although I wrote it five years ago in October 2012, it got 106 views last month and 93 the month before, even though it was never freshly pressed. It was one of the hardest posts to write and one of my favorites because of that, I suppose. It spawned a similarly hard post The Deer’s Scream, My Mother’s Eyes, and a Ripe Strawberry,
Perhaps at the very end, when there finally is no escape from death, like that deer, like my mother, and that awful inevitable conclusion chasing us down grabs hold, something unimaginable happens. Some unseen hand plucks us like a ripe strawberry from the jaws of death and swallows us whole, savoring all the sweetness of our brief lives, and reaffirming with a sigh, “Oh, so delicious!”
A prose poem followed, based on my experiences caring for my mother when she was dying: 13 Ways of Looking at Dying, Just Before, and the Moment After.
“Come here. I want you to sit on my lap.”
“No, Mama. I’m too heavy. I’ll hurt you.”
“Come, I want to hold you, like I used to.” She pats her lap.
Her hands are all bone now, her nails long and yellow. Her pajama bottoms are so loose there’s almost no leg to sit on. I balance on the edge of the recliner and she pulls my head down to her chest.
“There now,” she says, “there now.”
I feel like I’m lying on glass. Like any second I’ll break through. Like the long sharp shards of her body holding me up are giving way, and I’m being torn to pieces in her arms.
Another popular series of posts began with True Ghost Stories, Part One, Growing up in a Haunted House. One of the most popular in that series was about A Demon Sitting on My Chest. The series ends with me questioning whether all I experienced was “really” real, and evoking the voice of one of my favorite GOT characters.
So are the ghosts, demons, and other supernatural beings that have haunted humans through the centuries, that make brief appearances and then disappear, “real”? I do not know, and I’m not sure if it even matters. They are real enough to those that experience them, as least while they are experiencing them, and then afterwards, one wonders.
Each of us makes but brief ghostly appearances in this world we call real. We apparently spring from nearly nothing–a few multiplying cells, and then disappear into nothing as our bodies disintegrate after a short visitation that can last a few days or a few decades. Are we “real”?
“You know nothing, Jon Snow!” So claims the wilding Ygritte in the Game of Thrones series, a saying that has become a popular catchphrase for fans. And rightly so, I believe. It has the ring of truth about it.
Author George R. R. Martin created a soft-edged, constantly evolving world that surprises and delights and dismays us at every turn. And if we become too comfortable in believing we know who the good guys and bad guys are, or who has power and who is powerless, what is real and what is not real, we are sure to have it turn topsy-turvy in no time at all.
It is a world that feels very much like our own, psychologically, emotionally, if we would only admit it. Perhaps we are all Jon Snows, grasping to know for certain, what can only be known tentatively at best. And this is true when considering the limits of our own private, personal lives, as it is when considering the Big Questions about Life and Death and Reality.
So when people ask me now if I believe all this stuff I’ve written about in this series of ghost stories, I can hear Ygritte’s mocking voice challenge me: “You know nothing, Jon Snow!” And I wisely keep mum.
But lately my posts have been more about exploring the world of art, and my adventures playing with watercolor, than about writing or exploring the darker corners of consciousness.
I don’t know where this little blog-craft will take me next, and that’s the fun of it, that not-knowing: The mystery that lies beyond the edge of the wild and beckons us onward.
Thank you for taking this ride with me, for reading and responding, and for allowing me to be part of your lives as I follow you on your adventures.