By Karen Charlton
As I did the dishes last night, and Mr Karen made tea, we had a brief conversation about blogging.
“The Best Australian Blogs finalists come out tomorrow …” I tell the dishwater.
“You’re not holding out for that, are you?” Our backs are perpendicular to each other. I grab another pan and plunge it into the sink.
“In a way, it’d be nice …” I offer feebly, realising that when I write this down my tone will require the use of many ellipses. This is how to have a conversation without actually having a conversation.
“My problem is, the blog is probably the best thing that I’ve ever done, and yet if I keep doing it, I won’t have the time or energy to create anything else.”
“Well, give it up.”
Clearing out my office on Saturday, while the bigger boys went to the football and the youngest boy napped, I came eye to eye with all of my unfinished projects; art folios, sketch books, journals and notebooks.
Of the unfinished works, the blog is not one of them; it’s the only thing I have kept up, through all else. Through the self doubt, the arguments it’s caused with friends, the attention and the telling realisation that I really don’t like attention.
And yet the internet is like the worst boyfriend I have ever had. Gazing intently into its eyes each night, only to wake up in the morning with an empty in-box. Why do I keep doing this to myself?
My answer is always, always to try harder. Harder doing what, I’m not exactly sure. I squeeze the world a little tighter until my knuckles turn white.
When I’m having such a moment of disconnect, I read this short post from Alain de Botton.
“One of the more embarrassing and self-indulgent challenges of our time is the task of relearning how to concentrate. The past decade has seen an unparalleled assault on our capacity to fix our minds steadily on anything. To sit still and think, without succumbing to an anxious reach for a machine, has become almost impossible.
The obsession with current events is relentless. We are made to feel that at any point, somewhere on the globe, something may occur to sweep away old certainties—something that, if we failed to learn about it instantaneously, could leave us wholly unable to comprehend ourselves or our fellows. We are continuously challenged to discover new works of culture—and, in the process, we don’t allow any one of them to assume a weight in our minds. We leave a movie theater vowing to reconsider our lives in the light of a film’s values. Yet by the following evening, our experience is well on the way to dissolution, like so much of what once impressed us: the ruins of Ephesus, the view from Mount Sinai, the feelings after finishing Tolstoy’s Death of Ivan Ilyich.” (from here)
Today, I will shower, watch 2-year-old Ruben thrash around in his swimming lesson, be sat on by 4-year-old Hamish who is unwell, and laminate a picture collaged 6-year-old Louis when he should have been in bed.
I will let their weight and noise press down on me until I remember I am here.