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.