Friday, October 01, 2010

This Little Cog Went Walkabout


Today I read blog post about blogging. It was a list entitled
'10 Things Bloggers Should Not Do'.
Item #6 was: You Must Not Fail To Update Your Blog Regularly.  

Oops! I have sinned, haven’t I? been away from my desk for several weeks. I have been visiting family members, hiking along trails, reading novels, sitting in the sun, playing with grandchildren, reconnecting with old friends, giving talks, selling books…and then travelling all the way home, coping with a head cold and dealing with the backlog of work that built up during my absence. One thing I have not been doing is blogging.

Strange, isn’t it, how we in our culture manage to turn everything we do into a duty, with sets of rules and obligations and schedules? (Who writes these rules? I often wonder. Who is the Grand Master of the world’s bloggers whose word became law? Where are the stone tablets of blogdom kept?)

The things we love doing, just for the sheer joy of doing them, seem so easily to turn into ‘musts’ and ‘oughts’ and ‘shoulds’ and ‘have tos’. They get swallowed up in the great, busy, bustling, non-stop world of commerce and communication, just as cottage industries once got swallowed up in the Industrial Revolution.
In fact it is a kind of industrial revolution. Industry is our ruling paradigm, here in the West. The factory and its machines and the way they work: reliable, steady, monotonous, turning our widgets at so many per hour from dawn till dusk – or better still, around the clock – have become the measure of all things.

European settlers in places like Australia and New Guinea were baffled and frustrated when their local workers turned up every morning for weeks and then disappeared for days on end for no apparent reason. The aboriginal concept of ‘going walkabout’ was—and probably still remains—totally incomprehensible to the Western industrial mind. (You want to work for me? OK, you report for duty every day of the year except for the miserable couple of weeks of annual leave I’m obliged to give you. Thank goodness my machines don’t ask for time off. If they break I replace them immediately.)

So pervasive is this way of thinking that we expect ourselves to be machines too. We demand reliability, predictability, regularity. We treat our bodies as though they were motor cars, expecting them to perform for us on command, in the same way, every day, no matter what.

This is particularly hard on women, whose juices and energy wax and wane with the moon and who are often forced to try and combine their childbearing with earning a living. It is particularly hard on young children whose biology did not equip them to spend all day trapped at desks, learning about abstract things that for the most part they cannot explore and touch and interact with. It is particularly hard on elders, whose perceived value seems to follow the 'blue book’ principle, whereas elders are in fact much more like wine. Their wisdom grows and matures and becomes more valuable to their communities with every year they remain on Earth.

Well I am not a machine. And I refuse to remain a cog in anyone else’s. I’m retired, out to pasture, doing my own thing. I blog when I really want to, when I have something I really want or need to say. And if that means I am a Bad Blogger, well so be it. Some days I would rather be quiet and walk in the woods or work in the garden or read a book. Sometimes I need to leave my desk and wander far and wide. I need to go walkabout. It’s good for the soul. I can recommend it.

16 comments:

Nedine Says said...

Horray. I agree that blogging can get to be just one more THING that you have to do each day like flossing or doing laundry. It shouldn't become an obligation unless you are the blogger that wants to be noticed and hence famous in the blogging world. I don't have that aspiration. I just do it when the muse strikes. If that means once a month or once a year so be it ! I too am of the age that dictates that we do as we please and to blazes with rules.

Beverly said...

Sounds wonderful....and I am retiring in two weeks. No more getting up at 5am....no more computer charting in the newborn ICU. I will miss the babes, but, I am looking forward to me, my life, my family, my friends. Did not mean to go on about "my"self. It just flowed out of me....
I enjoyed your post. See you when I see you.

Elderwoman said...

Yes Nedine, "...we do as we please and to blazes with rules." After all, if not now, when? !
@Beverly: Hey, congratulations! You are going to love retirement, I just know it. That's great news.

June Calender said...

I went to the link of the woman with the rules. They did not resonate with me. She seems a young woman with a great need to make a mark in the blogosphere. I think we older women can be more relaxed and talk to our peers about our insights and concerns which are usually broader than just me, me, me. So you went "walk about" in your way, maybe it's a privilege younger women don't allow themselves. We know the relative value of playing with grandchildren or walking in the woods.

lakeviewer said...

Yes! A great declaration of independence!

Gaea Yudron said...

I really enjoyed this post. Western industrial culture is so afflicted with the busy production-oriented ethic. Going walkabout and swimming in dreamtime and inviting the magical qualities of what's right in front of us or within us--these are wonderful and important things, no matter what age we are. Freedom to engage in both outer and inner life--it's delightful and vivid.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Marian, Excellent post! I suggest the article in the UTNE READER magazine as a supplement to your post. UTNE's article is titled "Solitude and Leadership." The title is a little deceiving but fits nicely within your post's wise words. barbara

Grandmother said...

Just from a personal point of view- I really like reading your posts whenever they appear. If there were more- even better!

One Woman's Journey said...

Whenever you write - I enjoy what you share. I started writing 2 1/2 years ago, mainly for children and grandchildren. It is almost unbelievable to me that I find something to write about almost daily. Maybe that will cease.
So far it is a joy and new interest :)

lakeviewer said...

Yeah! Bad Bloggers United!

Claire said...

I am nowhere near retiring, but I have adopted the walkabout way of blogging, whether its wandering mentally or physically, I only blog when I want to. I think that is why I still enjoy blogging after four years.

Really enjoyed this post, I hope more people realise that they don't have to be a cog, retired or not :)

Pamela said...

What a wonderful site and post. You have helped me bridge my interest in electronic connection and my need, at 63, to be on my own timetable to read, walk, think and be left alone at times. The last thing I want at this point is to add a whole new set of rules to my life! I look forward to reading more of your thoughts.

PEACE said...

There are many out there who write everyday on their blogs. I tried that...didn't really have that much to say. And then when I didn't felt guilty. I found I would rather READ my favorite blogs then try and write something worthwhile to others. I check many blogs a couple times a week. Seems my favorites are the ones who don't write daily or even weekly. But when they do and I go to their page to see a new post up, it's so much more exciting. I feel like "the sage has spoken!" Can't wait to read the inspiring words. Rules are for those who need directions, those who follow. Leaders are the ones who blaze the trails and make the rules for others to follow.

PEACE said...

So, does every 3 or 4 months count as regularly?

Elderwoman said...

@Peace:given the challenges you've had to face this year, it is a miracle (and a testament to your indomitable spirit)that you have even posted once! Thanks for your great comments.
As you can see, I'm in a bit of a revolt against the word 'regularly' at the moment, afer all those years of keeping to a timetable. I prefer what I shall now think of as the Nedine Principle - 'I just do it when the muse strikes'. Not just blogging but a lot of other things too.

Candyce said...

I feel badly when people apologize that they haven't blogged. I musch rather hear from them because they have somthing they just want to blog about...not saying I don't miss them though.