Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thoughts about Africa, blogging, people, etc.

Four years ago, I was in a remote village outside of Kampala, Uganda. I was 22, fresh out of college and out of the country for the first time in my life. I had dreamed about and planned this trip for the better part of five years, and was ecstatic to be there.

My purpose was to serve. To serve in whatever capacity I could. To utilize whatever paltry abilities I had to support and to sustain. To get my hands dirty and work harder than I ever had before. And in the process of serving I found love. An intense, all-encompassing love for a country and for a people that left me irrevocably altered. I also found happiness... happiness in the face of suffering, destitution and loss. And that was a testament to me that happiness can be found anywhere, in spite of anything.

I've been contemplating this notion of happiness in spite of adversity a lot lately. I have a quote posted in my office by Anne Frank that reads: 

"Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy."

The reason why I like this statement is because it reminds me that there is so much to be happy about, even when I am sad and don't feel like it. I just think that it's so easy to focus on all of the craptastic things that happen in this world that it distracts and detracts us from our ability to be happy.

Because honestly, people can suck.

I work in an industry where I often am subjected to the worst parts of human nature (it's amazing how people will treat you and what they will say to you when it's not face-to-face, and even when it is face-to-face) and I have to deal with it all with a smile on my face. It's gets trying, to be sure. Mostly because I perceive this lack of politeness and tact to be disconcerting and something I wholly can't relate to. It seems like a lot of people only care about themselves and don't think of the bigger picture, which also bothers me. 

And then there's blogging... 

There's a blog I read from time to time that really just depresses me. Because it's always so negative. It's negative under the guise of being "real." Nine posts out of ten are downers, and I feel myself gleaning nothing from it. Which is why I have made up my mind not to read it anymore. (I just keep thinking it's going to get better, ya know? That one of these days it'll be enjoyable to read. And it's just not happening.) Conversely, I will readily admit that I tire of the blogs that read like Seriously So Blessed but are non-satirical (mainly because I cringe at all of the unintentional spelling and grammatical errors, not mention the self righteous sanctimony). But I choose not to read those blogs either.

The amazing thing about blogging is that we don't have to read what we don't want to read. We don't have to fill some sort of an English requirement or write an essay on what we've read. It's out there in the wide expanse of the interwebs and can never be completely erased. I personally prefer reading the blogs that teach me something. That enlighten me. That make me happy. I can think of a couple of blogs I read that portray the little delightful moments in life that are happy. That contain smiling photos of beautiful, strong women each with her own unique perspective of life. And I also know that these women have secret struggles and pains that they choose not to share with the masses, or do so only in part and passing. They choose to keep some parts of their lives private. And then are derided for doing so, for not being "real." Are their posts any less real because they focus on the happiness in their lives? Are they any less insightful? Granted there are some blogs out there that I find to be incorrigible. But how do I know what's going on behind closed doors? Who I am to say what they should or shouldn't write?

Personally, I'll admit, I like honesty. I like reading about real people who have real lives and real struggles. I know that I've written about a few of my own here. But I haven't written about all of them, nor do I intend to. And when I write about how much I love my husband or my family or post happy things, I don't want to be labeled as contrived. And I certainly don't want this blog to become a forum for constant complaining or negativity. What's the point of writing if that's all I am doing? I think that those who are most successful at this forum achieve a balance, they find a niche. Whether it's blogging about experiences or events or things, these people have been able to tap into the collective unconscious and speak to people. To relate to people or to inspire. Not to denigrate or diminish.

The rest is just floating out there in internet space, and I for one, just choose not to read it.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

I agree. There really are blogs that seem to draw you in, but are in no way connecting, uplifting, or insightful. It takes strength to choose not to read that kind of material. I also tend to get kind of neurotic about my blog sometimes: is it too cliche? is it too happy? is it not real enough? is it too much information? It can make a girl crazy. But then I remember a quote that my good friend sent to me one day as I was struggling with some of my writing (in school). It's this:
"So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some
Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery." --Virginia Woolfe, A Room of One's Own

so...just write what your heart tells you to write (you have a moral heart, so I can give you that free reign ;) ).