Final post of June: What I learned

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I went back to this blog to write deliberately – by which I mean, to write at all. Part of me was curious: could I do it? Part of me liked the challenge, and that I did. Most of all, I wanted to connect to a different mode of writing I’d been letting lie for a very long time, to brush off old orientations to words not in spite of my academic work, nor in mutual relation to, but simply alongside.

For this last post of my month-long challenge, I knew I wanted to reflect on what it all meant, but in the days leading up to it, I kept feeling empty-handed. There was no one lesson learned; no singular diamond in the rough that I could emerge with, triumphantly, clutched in my hand. Was I a better writer because of this experiment? Yes and no: I re-learned what a manageable blog post feels like, and developed instincts as to what size and shape narrative arcs worked and didn’t work. But I didn’t necessarily grow in any linear way. Did I become a better cook? Again, yes and no. I tried my hand at new things (almond milk, chia seeds, restaurant reviews) but also felt I had less time to develop and dig into my cooking, always having to turn around and package it for immediate consumption. Even my appetite and zest for all things culinary waxed and waned: sometimes I was incredibly hungry, sometimes I totally lost it. All of this, I suppose, is not out of the ordinary – but I still can’t shake the feeling that it is not quite desirable, either.

Which brings me to the bigger question: what does one ever learn from writing, anyway? So many people I know seek ourselves in this craft, if only to capture a stillness in the forgettable hustle of everyday life. I had these moments of being, and I’m grateful for them. But I think what I gained, ultimately, was a new reinforcement of being in the world, or being-in-relation to others.

I learned that “social media” is a slippery slope, but to my great glad surprise, not always for the worst: taking up the blogging challenge was part of a wider embrace of (and registration on) Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, and increased activity on Facebook. I got to know their cultures, habits, taboos: some burned out like fireworks, while some have become almost habitual. While I have really mixed feelings about these sites, what I will say is that a new aperture on life opened up because of them – and I like it.

I also learned that you read this blog, which has been tremendously exciting. For many of my posts, I received comments in person, on Facebook, and on the blog. Thank you so much for being part of this experiment in returning! It’s worth the world to know you have folks to return to.

So what happens next? I’m going to be generous to myself and say, honestly, I don’t know. I probably won’t do a month-long project again, at least for a long time. And yet I’ll also be generous to you, and say with great sincerity that I will certainly continue to write, at least from time to time. Until then, keep well.

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