A personal reflection on the purpose of publishing my personal reflections. (I'm getting meta on your badasses!)
Although it is true this little blog is pretty much unexamined by other people, I’m not about to stop writing Soulchaser simply because it has a small readership. Even if nobody ever read any of this stuff, I’d probably still write it. It’s really as much for me as it is for you, perhaps more so, and hence the real meaning of the title of this post.
Socrates’ classic line, “the unexamined life is not worth living” is, for my money, the single most important piece of life advice ever spoken. It is a mere 7 words, and yet it captures the essence of what it means to live a life without questioning and investigating yourself, and everything you take for granted: your actions, your motives, your thoughts, your upbringing, your values, your culture, even your moment to moment experience of yourself as a single concious entity. It is a colossal waste. A waste so utterly devoid of meaning as to have practically no point at all. It’s actually an insult to the unbelievably improbable but undeniably self-evident fact that 6 billion years of atomic particles apparently following deterministic laws of thermodynamics and sub-atomic particles apparently ignoring those laws entirely, including formation of our very universe, galaxy, solar system and planet, the entire evolutionary history of life on earth leading up to your conception, birth, and emergent sense of self, should have resulted in you thinking of yourself as you: your pretty much miraculous and presently inexplicable consciousness. And you want to watch X-Factor and shop for shoes! Shame!
I try not to be quite so insulting to forces I have pretty much zero comprehension of, and, as the title of this post is actually alluding to, this blog is one of my many forms of introspection and attempts at personal growth. Some people can do all of this in their heads, or out loud in conversation. I find it useful, sometimes even vital, to organise my thoughts on paper into something coherent and, if possible, a little bit clever and pleasing to read. For reasons of ego or social pressure, or perhaps a purely altruistic desire to engage in some kind of philosophical discourse with my fellow thinkers, wanderers and weirdos, doing this publicly on a blog rather than privately in a diary has always been more rewarding (meaning I do it better and more often).
TAKE THIS POST FOR EXAMPLE
It’s been three months since my last post, which was the first thing I’d published after publicly setting out my many goals for 2015, one of which was to write 50 posts for this blog. Had this been a new year’s resolution to keep a daily diary I would have gone through the usual guilt and frustration before quietly and privately giving up altogether. Three months of silence on here and, even without hordes of readers sending me messages asking me if I’m OK, I feel like everything else has to be put on hold until I’ve published something.
And it’s not just fear of failing publicly (a useful motivator for reaching some goals but certainly not the healthiest): the strongest feeling is actually something like one of responsibility, to you, or whoever else is reading this or has read any of my stuff. Which betrays a small truth about me and this blog. I have always wanted to be useful, to live a good and useful life, and I want this blog to be both good and useful too. Figuring out what is good and useful is, of course, half the challenge.
This in part explains the hiatus in Soulchaser activity (the other part of the story is that life happened, and I’ve ended up moving to Scotland via Wales and Bristol since returning from my winter in the rainforests of Borneo). I’ve been slightly unsure of the direction I’ve been taking this blog in, and so I’ve been unwilling to pick one of the dozens of article ideas and start putting fingertip to keyboard. I am always pursued by this question above all others: “why am I doing this?” If an answer isn’t immediately forthcoming, I’m pretty much stuck until I can either find one or find the courage to give up and do something else.
WHAT’S THIS BLOG ABOUT? WHO IS IT FOR?
What do I want to write about here, and what don’t I want to write about? Is it about travel and adventure? Spirituality? Productivity? Self growth? Ethical living? Frugality? If it’s about some or all of these things, what is the common thread and how do I keep that present in each post? Is it primarily for me or for others? Is it a journal or a how to guide? How do I walk the line between providing the kind of stimulation and inspiration that I love reading on other blogs, and simply boasting or showing off? Am I using it as a tool for self-promotion? Where does it fit into my professional life, if at all?
These aren’t questions I ask myself for marketing purposes. I’m fairly immune to the idea that I could ever make any proper money from blogging (despite all the bloggers claiming to have made millions selling marketing books and courses to bloggers who then try to sell me web marketing books and courses to teach me how to sell web marketing books and courses to bloggers so that they can sell web marketing books courses to people who haven’t even started a blog yet…). I’m still of the school that thinks that, as a rule, money usually tarnishes and demeans things, and I like to keep certain pursuits pure and free from the influence of the profit motive.
No. I ask these questions because they matter at a most fundamental level. Why am I doing this? And if I’m choosing to do it, how can I do it well?
THIS IS A SEEKER’S JOURNAL
Like many creative nomads, I am some kind of modern day seeker, and the title of this blog (originally chosen when I was a much brighter-eyed and earnest 20 year old) reflects that pretty well.
Soulchaser: part memoir, part musing, part manual. It’s not a professional space for me on the web, nor is it a place for me to document my travels, expeditions or projects, unless I’m trying to draw some lessons from them. I suppose in some ways it’s a lifestyle blog. It’s just that the lifestyle I’m promoting is pretty out of whack with most peoples’ current lifestyles, and diametrically opposed to almost every other lifestyle blog on the web.
I tried to articulate this with my Adventures in Alternative Lifestyle Design post. Over the next few weeks I will revisit that and try to write something a bit shorter, a bit more clearly defined, a sort of mission statement. If you have any thoughts or feedback for me, I’d love to her them. Just use the comments below.
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