That’s a statement I never expected to write for any number of reasons. There’s the 15 students who signed up along with me for a spring 2011 blogging class in hopes of launching a blog, sharing thoughts, advice, creative endeavors, and, in some cases, products, and maybe, just maybe, making some money or getting a job or book contract the way Julie Powell did with the Julie & Julia Project. Only six of us actually “attended” the online class and created blogs. At last view, only two of us are still at it.
There may be more than 150 millions blogs – running the gamut from corporate to very personal – but, pro and amateur alike, many fall by the wayside after a season or two. They succumb to a dearth of content, time, resources, reader interest, or due to technical and legal snafus.
Strangely – and even though I’ve watched the blogs of companies and friends collapse for one or more of the above reasons – they weren’t why I didn’t expect to be celebrating a year of blogging.
A Painful Secret
I’ll tell you a secret I rarely share: I was afraid to launch a blog because I live in chronic pain. It’s taken me a year to feel comfortable enough in the blogosphere to let you in on this secret. One reason is that when I use the words “chronic pain,” I’m not referring to something that takes up a portion of my day; I don’t start out fine and then feel aches in the evening after I’ve spent hours at the keyboard; it isn’t about a stiff neck or a sore shoulder. What I mean by “chronic pain” is that I am in excruciating pain on the right side of my body, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, and have been every second of every minute of every day for the past 12 years.
What began with a mountain-biking accident in Costa Rica, when I hit my head, neck and lower back on a boulder and suffered a mild concussion and multicolored bruising, morphed into an all-encompassing condition that frequently reaches over to the left side of my body, as well.
There’s no specific diagnosis for what happened during and after the accident and no effective treatment. The first (and often only) thing most doctors offer is painkillers, which I reject out of hand since they aren’t a cure. Plus, I can’t imagine trying to think, much less write, through a fog of barbiturates.
Blogging done right requires stamina. It’s not just the writing – there’s editorial planning, research, fact-checking, editing, and, most important, engaging with readers. I expend much of my energy every day dealing with pain that is inescapable, that can’t be isolated because of its enveloping nature. There is no time off and there are many days when pain feels like it’s made a coffin of my body.
I do as much as I can to contain this and keep it from the people around me, but in the often cruel irony of affliction, pain can affect the way I communicate. It’s a bit like that episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” the one where she tries to save people by slaying a monster and winds up with an aspect of the demon instead. In my case, the pain builds up so acutely in my neck and jaw that it comes out of my mouth, impatient and snarky. That is something I adamantly never want to happen when I blog or interact with the people who read my blog. And it’s a pledge I intend to observe with you, my readers, who’ve taken this journey with me for the past year in this blog.
My Shiny New Monster Part
These last dozen years have made me acutely aware – especially at the office, in high-stress situations – that everyone has their own personal demons and aches and pains. And, like Buffy’s aspect of the demon, which arrived in the form of mind-reading, not every problem is visible or obvious. Living with chronic pain has helped me to give people a break because you never know what others might be dealing or struggling with on a particular day, and it would be terrible to write off someone who may very well be in the same boat as I am and not be able to help themselves.
I’ve lost enough of my life to chronic pain that I don’t want to lose out on the wonderful things that other people have to share. What’s that line of Katharine Hepburn’s at the end of “The Philadelphia Story”? “The time to make up your mind about people is never.” That’s been a valuable lesson of the past 12 years, living with this secret, and one I wouldn’t have wanted to miss.
Travel writing and photography that inspires me each and every week:
Rita Wechter’s “One Day in America” blog