If there’s one thing I’ve learned after a year and a half of blogging, it’s that frequency is golden. Those months when I can crank out at least one post a week, my blog traffic soars. In those unfortunate periods where I can barely squeeze out a single post in a month, my traffic drops precipitously.
This fall has been one of those unfortunate periods. My blogging silence is not for lack of inspiration. I’ve composed probably fifteen posts during the past five weeks, but almost all of these thoughts have flowered, and languished, in my mind while I was doing other things like washing dishes or driving my son to hockey practice. Other than occasionally scribbling an idea onto a post-it note (which inevitably disappeared in the chaotic abyss of my kitchen) I have little to show for all my contemplation.
The reason I’ve been so busy is that I have recently taken on a number of new volunteer commitments: running a local blood drive, taking charge of membership and publicity at my church, helping with fundraising for my son’s hockey league, hosting events for the women’s group at my church, cooking meals for sick friends and for a soup kitchen, walking my friends’ dogs when they are too busy, etc. Oh, and of course there’s the rest of my regular life: taking care of three young kids each with a host of activities and needs, a dog, a cat, and an old house that needs a lot of work.
And here’s where I get to the paradox: while I could have said ‘no’ to many of these volunteer responsibilities, it somehow seemed really lame to me to say that I didn’t have time to help others because I was too busy writing about how important it is to help others. OK, right, that’s not the only thing I write about, but it’s pretty core. As I wrote in my last post (at least I think I wrote this, it’s been so long ago I can’t quite remember) – to me what’s most important is to live a life like Christ, which means being kind and compassionate towards others. So that’s what I’m trying to do, and it’s left me with precious little time to write.
So the question remains whether my writing should be categorized as a legitimate way to help others. Some people have occasionally responded to my posts saying that what I’ve written has really touched them. I know that for me personally certain books have been tremendously influential in my life. But then I look at the overwhelming volume of writing already on the Web, and at the even more overwhelming level of need all around me, and I find it hard to turn my back on that need. Perhaps it’s the quant-oriented MBA in me who needs to see measurable results. If I help collect 50+ pints of blood for a blood drive, that translates into a potential of 150 lives that I’ve helped to save. If I write a thoughtful blog post – maybe I’ve helped someone think a little differently about faith and the world. Which is more important?
And where does this leave me? I think it leaves me stuck somewhere between Socrates and St. Francis of Assisi: like Socrates, I still believe that the unexamined life is not worth living (and thus want to reflect and write), but like Assisi I want to continuously preach the Gospel and occasionally use words (and thus want to prioritize actions that help others rather than words that comment on those actions). Unsurprisingly, I realize Jesus is a pretty good model of how to reconcile these two impulses: he spent his life healing and helping others, but would regularly pause to reflect and comment on his actions. Bottom line – I will continue to write. Probably not often enough to be a wildly successful blogger, but often enough to be consistent with my faith. I guess that’ll have to be enough.