In the movie Forrest Gump, Forrest starts running one day and just keeps running. He ends up running across country and amassing a group of followers who run along with him. Ultimately, he ran for three years, two months, fourteen days, and 16 hours when he unceremoniously stopped in the middle of a highway. The crowd waited anxiously to hear what we would say and all Forrest said was, “I’m pretty tired. Think I’ll go home now.” The crowd was confused, but the bottom line was this: Forrest ran until he didn’t.
I reckon that is what happened here on The New Forty blog. Well, at least it sort of feels that way. I blogged every single day for almost five years. I blogged on business trips, on vacation, when I was sick – through all things I blogged. I blogged despite the fact that family, friends, and colleagues would question my compulsion to blog daily. I cannot even remember how many times I was asked, “Can’t you just miss a day?” I couldn’t though, because I told myself I couldn’t. I just kept going all those days until one day I didn’t.
Of course, it isn’t as simple a story as that. I was feeling an ever-increasing weight on my psyche. It was a collection of struggles and sorrows that I saw my friends suffering with that caused me to wonder if I should be doing something different with my time – something more meaningful – something more than a blog that was often irreverent and lighthearted. With each impact I learned of I became a bit more removed from the frivolity and leisure of my blog. I just kept thinking about the sadness that was surrounding me and the inability I had to change anything with the words in my blog. It brought me down.
Two of my friends – women I hold so very dear – lost their adult sons over the past year and half. Cancer took my friend Janna last fall and is also currently attacking other friends. A young woman I knew from my days in Kindred was murdered. My brother’s family is struggling. And my kindred spirit, B-Dubya, has been sick – in and out of the hospital. These things, and others like them made my blog feel selfish and juvenile.
When I stopped blogging, I wasn’t sure if I would go more than a day or two without it. After all, when you do something continuously for all that time it becomes part of who you are and what you do. I didn’t really know what I would do and I was surprised when a week passed and I had not even visited The New Forty. One week turned to two and then four; I found myself thinking that I should make some sort of formal decision about the blog. I thought I should either go back to it in some shape or form (maybe go to a three times a week or once a week format) or maybe just stop blogging. At four weeks, I knew one thing for sure – I could not go back. Yet, I was not ready to decide to let it go. I told myself I would give it 50 days…which turned into 60 and ultimately 90.
Over that time I saw, read, and experienced things that I thought would be nice to share with readers of The New Forty, but I could not bring myself to engage on that level. I received emails, calls, posts, and letters from friends, family, colleagues, and readers asking me what was going on with The New Forty. The more folks asked, the more I retreated. It was, as best I can describe this period, a combination of avoidance, malaise, and clouded thinking. I was in a funk to be sure and needed some clarity, but it wasn’t coming. The moment of clarity ultimately came in early August via a memory about the old movie Sullivan’s Travels. I saw the movie as a child and remembered the movie’s moral – comedies are more valuable than dramas to the downtrodden soul. And so it was that I pondered the thought that being me and writing my blog doesn’t mean that I have abandoned my own or others’ downtrodden souls. The weight of the world must be lifted sometimes by those who have the opportunity to do so.
I am sad about the losses and struggles I have watched those near and dear to me deal with – I feel deeply for them. I want them to know that my life does not march on without somber reflection about them and their struggles. No matter what silliness or off-handed commentary appears in my blog, my heart carries the weight of their pain. Every day I think about the difficulties they are enduring.
Thank you New Forty readers for your concern and loyalty. I am sorry for the concern I caused you. I want to assure you that Noah did not put me in “a home” as he gleefully commented on the May 30 blog post. It was a confine of my own making in my mind, heart, and soul.
I feel as if I have been away a very long time and I am happy to be back and in the right frame of mind to be able to share the day-to-day goings on with you. And of course I will catch you up on my summer vacation over the days to come. And yes B-Dubya, I will provide the details of the annual Oprah and Gayle road trip.
Day one thousand five hundred and fifteen of the new forty – obla di obla da