After the late film critic Roger Ebert lost his ability to speak as a by product of numerous intense surgeries, he threw himself into online blogging. It was called Roger’s Journal, a title that I particularly latched onto because the writing wasn’t limited to what had become his niche profession, but instead was a collection of anything in his mind. Journalist Janet Maslin said, “Ebert writes as if it were a matter of life and death. Because it is.”
Ebert was blogging because he had to blog – because it was a matter of being heard, or not being heard. A matter of existing or not existing.
There is plenty to dissect here. Ebert was, more or less, shouting his final thoughts and musings for the world to hear, all so without a voice. I’ve often wonder what kind of benefit this project had on his grieving process, deep below the surface. At the end of the day, one our most human fears is being forgotten once we’re gone. We live inside our own heads for so much of our lives. We have thoughts and fears, small pleasures and intense joys that, really, we can only feel because these things exist solely inside our own selves. So, once we die, so do these things.
For example, I can tell you about how the song Suicide is Painless by Manic Street Preachers makes me sleepy. Sometimes, it even makes me cry. Maybe the song stirs something inside you too, but still, you could never hear it the exact same way I hear it. You’ve never listened to the instrumental version play in the dark from my childhood bedroom from down the hall before a rerun of MASH.
This is a memory or an event or just a human thing strictly for me. These are passing shower thoughts, or while driving to work alone in the early morning. They’re often so fleeting that we don’t even ruminate on them too long ourselves.
But these small, every day thoughts and occurrences are what end of piling together to be our lives. Feel them. Acknowledge them. Out loud, I have said hello to the trees in my yard, or the rocks I sit on overlooking the ocean. Hello, good morning. I’m alive again today, isn’t that wonderful? It’s certainly a pleasure to feel you today, breeze.
These are the kind of things I want to blog about. To celebrate the ordinary and to be the archenemy to apathy. Much like Ebert, this blog has become a practice in existing. A thesis on staying alive. A matter of life or death.
I want to mention here that it’s terrifying to share these things and I have to imagine it’s equally nerve wracking for Heather. When you share, you open yourself to criticism. And criticism has and will come. Some harsher than others. The ones that will hurt the most come from people you would hope understand. The people who fear criticism the most will attack you. Keep that in mind. Someone once told me that if you like what you’ve created, then chances are so will at least one other person on Earth. You’re not an island, you’re not so different. You’ll find your audience, you will find your people. And won’t that be so wonderful.
You can find Roger’s Journal here.
what I’m reading: Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon
what I’m listening to: Snowmine