You didn’t really think I was going to end the countdown with a haiku, did you? I hope you have more faith in me than that.
Anyway, on with the real post …
So here we are, at the end of the journey. I’ve done what I set out to do, and even with the knowledge that “Great” Thoughts is far from perfect, that there are far too many typos and filler posts and works that never quite had the punch when I finished writing as when I started, I’m proud of what I’ve done.
But what have I done? Have I accomplished anything beyond stubborn perseverance? These are fair questions, and I think the answer gets to the heart of blogging. You see, blogging, at least the kind that I’m doing is free. I don’t pay to have my blog on WordPress. There’s no gatekeeper picking and choosing who gets to blog. I put my work out there and others put theirs out and away we go. It’s not even a competition, except for your time as a reader. Along with things like Youtube and Livestream and such, it represents a democratization of media.
Think about that. I’m not a techie, not by any stretch of the imagination, but in my home, there are no less than 6 cameras capable of taking video of a quality to be posted on the internet. If I wanted to, I could make “Great” Thoughts into a…what? A video blog? A web TV show? One never knows.
Fear not. I’m sticking to writing for the foreseeable future, but the possibility is there, and that’s what I mean about the democratization of media. So in that environment, what justifies my coming to you every day and putting my thoughts out there for your comsumption?
Well, Walt Whitman was a fan of democracy. He had a great passion for the American Experiment of which he was a part. In his masterpiece, Leaves of Grass, he wrote the following poem.
AS I PONDER’D IN SILENCE.
As I ponder’d in silence,
Returning upon my poems, considering, lingering long,
A Phantom arose before me with distrustful aspect,
Terrible in beauty, age, and power,
The genius of poets of old lands,
As to me directing like flame its eyes,
With finger pointing to many immortal songs,
And menacing voice, What singest thou? it said,
Know’st thou there is but one theme for ever-enduring bards?
And that is the theme of War, the fortune of battles,
The making of perfect soldiers.
Be it so,then I answer’d,
I too haughty Shade also sing war and a longer and greater one than any,
Waged in my book with varying fortune, with flight, advance and retreat, victory deferr’d and wavering,
(Yet methinks certain, or as good as certain, at the last) the field the world.
For life and death, for the body and for the eternal Soul,
Lo, I too am come, chanting the chant of battles,
I above all promote brave soldiers.
First, let me say that I am not comparing myself to Walt Whitman in any way shape or form. But, I love the way Whitman answers the spectral gatekeeper who comes to him demanding that he justify his art. His answer is that he needn’t write about the great deeds of great men. He doesn’t need to chronicle the acts of generals, philosophers and Kings. He sings of a greater set of deeds, the mundane, everyday actions of ordinary people, the daily battles, the victories and defeats, the joys and the struggles. To Whitman, those lives, lived in anonymity beyond the orbits in which they travel, are the stuff of legend.
And that brings me back to my little blog, one of thousands of little blogs out there on the internet.
In 2011, I came to you 375 times, 376 if you count this post. Of those 376 posts, two were fiction. (Strum Nimblefingers…we will see him again) Two others were almost entirely the words of someone else. (The texts of the Obama and Palin speeches in the aftermath of the Tucson massacre.) That leaves 372 posts that were mine and inspired by real life, real experiences. Some certainly discussed current events. Many more were musings on my experience. But they were all based on real life as it happened. No one rewrote it to make a more compelling narrative. No one cut superfluous characters. Little, if any of it was earth shattering. But it was life. It is a chronicle of a year.
Now, I’m not a great writer, certainly not one of note. I’ve had interesting experiences in my life, but there are plenty of others who have had far more interesting ones, and yet I’m here blogging.
But I don’t have to be. We all have stories. We all have events to relate, and no matter how we choose to relate them, whether in a blog or a poem or song or just through stories told around the water cooler to your co-workers, they all have value. They all come together to make up the tapestry that is our collective existence.
And so, as I close the book on my journey through 2011, I want to offer you my heartfelt thanks for traveling this long road with me. Thank you for the likes and the comments and shares and overall participation. It’s impossible for me to convey how much they all mean to me.
But more importantly, I want to encourage each and every one of you to tell your stories, to share the victories and defeats in your own battles. Sure, 2012 is going to be a big year. We’re looking at a leap year, an election year, the Olympics and the prophesied end of the world as we know it. But against that back drop we are all living out the stories of our own lives, our own journeys through the world.. Those journeys deserve to be chronicled and their stories told.
With all that said, I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t take the time to thank my amazing, incredible wife. Alissa Viertel makes me a better man, with her patience and encouragment. I would never have completed this journey without the support of the love of my life.
And that’s it for 2011. You have my heartfelt thanks and the best wishes for a 2012 in which you and yours find happiness, good health, prosperity and ways to make the world that much better.
Happy New Year from “Great” Thoughts and the Viertel family.