It’s a weird time to be writing a personal blog.
When I sit down to write these posts, I think about everything going on in the news: the black men killed by police, the shooting in Texas, the shooting in Florida, Brexit, the coup in Turkey, the American presidential election season, the shooting in Munich, the terrorist attack in Nice, and on. And on. And on.
I don’t think I’ve ever lived through times like these, I tell my friend on the phone. And she says some of her friends have compared what’s going on now to the 1950s and 60s with McCarthyism and the Civil Rights Movement. I don’t know how apt a comparison that is, but yes, it is well before my time.
And then I write a list on my blog about Seattle, and it does pretty decently as posts go, and another friend tells me after looking at so much bad and stressful news on his feed, he clicks on my post because it’s a relief to take a break from all that.
It’s weird because I’m very aware my life is the tiniest piece possible in a world that is quaking and breaking and changing and questioning in a hugely dramatic fashion.
Also when reading the presidential campaign news, I realize I’m much less of an idealist than I thought. You know what I’m not an idealist about? Money, politics, taxes, health care, and dysfunctional families. I’ve been playing the “choose the lesser evil, keep things afloat however possible” game in my personal life since I was eleven. I am very practiced in not getting what I want, in having to think about the longer term, and in exercising damage control. The very fact I believe change is possible makes me an idealist by some definitions, but I don’t think change is fast or easy or without scores of compromises you make along the way. But I also know how exhausting pragmatism can be over time. Of course, some of us can afford to discard prgamatism more than others.
So here I am writing a personal blog during Interesting Times, a pragmatic idealist (or practical free spirit!) and I am reminded of the small stories set against a larger backdrop in science fiction and fantasy. I’m talking about My Real Children by Jo Walton, or Life after Life after Life, by Kate Atkinson, or Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro, or The Last Policeman by Ben Winters or The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, by Cassandra Rose Clarke. These and the many other books like them are all intimate stories about individuals who don’t make a huge impact on the world around them. These are not Chosen Ones or heroes and anti-heroes whose actions save or ruin the entire world. They are smaller stories, quieter stories, stories of personal revelation, stories of one person searching for meaning in their more or less ordinary lives. Lives that are nonetheless affected and influenced by the worlds these characters inhabit.
And this is how a personal blog can fit into these times we are living in right now. I am often going to choose not to write about politics, not to write about all the wider tragedies we find ourselves facing. Alas, my strength as a writer is not in debate, nor is it in abruptly shaking people awake.
No, I mostly write the smaller stories. Here in this place I write my small story. It is not the most important story, but it is what I have to tell. It is personal, but the context also matters. I look at the news, and I am heartbroken again and again. I am cognizant of the chaos that’s going on around me. I feel the injustice and the widespread fear down to my bones.
We live in Interesting Times, my friends. This blog is a drop in the ocean of the world. But I like to believe sometimes this blog may cause you to think about something in a new way. I do hope the small stories it tells can sometimes lift up, inspire, and soothe. Or at the very least, that me writing here can provide a small respite from the larger stories with which we must wrestle and agonize.
Perhaps it can serve as a reminder that we are all here, and we are all human, and that in spite of all the tragedy and all the deep rifts between us, there are also some things about us that are the same.
I am still enough of an idealist to believe empathy matters.