I haven't been around here much. Not really. Not real-ly. I know it, and you probably know it too.
I don't plan to apologize, because there's nothing wrong with my mental, if not literal, absence. (It's my blog and I'll write if I want to, and all that jazz.) There are some things I'd like to offer, though.
I've been blogging since 2001. I had a livejournal, which I loved, and browsing the archives is one of my favorite things to do. I blogged there all through college, and it's so neat to go back and reacquaint myself with the girl I was pre-TBI. Dang, I was funny, y'all. When I wasn't taking stupid quizes.
I did the myspace blog for a little while after college to satisfy my world-citizen cousins who were all over myspace with their global friends, but...ugh, myspace. I grew tired of that medium pretty quickly, but I still wanted to blog. Enter: makeway4ducklings.blogspot.com, aka Sidetracked.
This blog and I go back a while. It's carried me through some major life transitions, including a marriage, two big moves, and more than one job change (see: two big moves). It should go without saying* that I am not the same person I was when I began writing here. I'm certainly not the same person I was when I began blogging.
Not only am I not the same, I would venture that I am extraordinarily different. And yes, there's the head injury, the impact of which still brings me to tears occasionally (it took me 3 minutes and a buddy to come up with the word synthesize yesterday, and then I couldn't even pronounce it correctly). But there's more. I compare my current situation, lifestyle, viewpoint, even spiritual position, to the ones I thought I would have had by now, and there are vast differences. Gaping differences.
My adult life doesn't look anything like the adult life I'd envisioned for myself. And for some odd reason, this is difficult to accept.
That's not to say I'm disappointed. On the contrary, I'm still deeply content. But wrestling the who-I-was and the who-I-am to figure out the who-I-will-be is challenging. It's demanding and engaging and, above all, a deeply internal process.
As is writing. And lately, I've found I don't often have the stamina to do both.
Until I do. And when that's the case, I can do nothing but write. Take now, for example. I've got a big meal in the oven that will be served in an hour, and no kitchen table to serve it because my table is currently piled in onions and jars and jackets and dead hairdryers. (Well, just one dead hairdryer) Yet here I sit, typing. I dare you to pull me away. (warning: DON'T) (Note: other examples of Gotta Write Syndrome here and here.)
In general, though, writing has been difficult. For months, I struggled with the changes I'd begun to notice in myself. Putting them in writing took too much effort. Now, finally, I can accept that I am changing, and that soon, the time for deliberate changes may come. I can roll with it now, instead of suffocating my thought life in panic and fear. In the meantime, there are questions. So many questions. Big questions. Specific questions.
The answers will need to be specific, too. I'll have to combat the navel-gazing with action. Books. Conversations. Trips to Goodwill. Lifestyle changes. Real ones. Noticeable ones.
I can feel a shift inside of me. A paradigm shift, one friend called it. She was referring to a spiritual shift, but I've recently realized that while this journey began with spiritual questions, it certainly won't end there.
As in a store-closing sale, everything in my head and life is up for grabs. Kids: have 'em, or not? Cars: should I swear off them as a means for transportation? How much do I really care about the environment? Political affiliation: what do I really think? If what I think and what I think is possible are two different courses taken by two different parties, should I affiliate at all? Lifestyle: which values are my priorities, what are Brian's, and how will we get them off the paper and into our day-to-day living? How will those decisions impact our choices about spending, saving, giving, travel and/or home ownership? What about food and diet changes?
Even my theology is under intense scrutiny right now. Who, or what, is God? What are God's attributes? Do I really buy into Jesus? Am I a Christian with doubts, or an agnostic with hope? (Does that even matter?) Will I be a church-goer this time next year? As a self-professed lifelong Christian, new questions about God, Jesus and the Church are troubling, to make a delightfully inadequate understatement. (See aforementioned panic and fear.)
Ultimately, there are no guarantees. I'm traveling without a map, unsure of my destination.
Systemic change. It's happening. And when I'm through, I won't be the same.
So what does all of that mean for this space?
To begin, I think all of the above could be pointed to as the cause for the swings in my presence here. I've struggled to maintain the conversation, and I find myself swinging from intense and deep discussions to menial fluff. This is another, albeit less pressing, recurring debate: I know enough about social media to know that this is not how to build and engage an audience. On the other hand, this is just a cat blog, not the launch pad for my world domination.
Questions aside, I intend to stick around. There's a lot more to process. I invite you to witness this journey, however it unfolds.