I sent an email to three friends the other day, and asked them to join me in an experiment. It was something of a risk, and I wasn't sure whether they would agree. The theme of my email was blogging.
I take blogging very seriously. My blog is one of the main ways in which I relate to the world, how I respond, how I reflect. I do this, like many things in my life, without a mentor or a clear sense of how to do it. I write big ideas, and often feel fear before clicking 'Publish,' but force myself to do so anyway. I live a life of discipline when it comes to thinking, reading, and questioning in open ways.
My blog is unlike any other medium in my life, something I was never taught to do, something I am always unsure about, and yet something that links together my reading, teaching, cooking, thinking, friendships, parenting, faith, etc. It is precisely because it remains always undefined that I can constantly take refuge in it, where other forms of writing and relating would cause me to be silenced.
I have been taking stock recently, trying to identify my peers, those who also take seriously the need to respond and reflect on what happens, rather than just experience things as they come. I read hundreds of blogs and many more "web sites" daily, and I have come to the conclusion that these three friends and bloggers play a significant role in my understanding of how and why to blog--they are my peers, and they serve as models to me.
In each of their blogs I see an underlying drive that is not one of necessity (cf. the "work blog"), not one of "LOLOMG check this link!", and not one that is easily categorized. I see each of them living their lives and thinking in reflective ways as they respond to what is around them. I see them all choosing to risk themselves by attaching their name to their thoughts, by putting themselves in front of the web, by being open. I watch each of them think nothing of laying brave polemics beside simple observations week after week. I see in each of them something of myself and what I aspire to be, and it helps me to know that I am not alone.
I know many people who have blogs, and very few of them use them in the way I've just described. Very few see what these three see in terms of the opportunity that the blog presents for personal reflection, response, and sharing.
I have learned that many of the things that drive me are uncommonly held among my family and friends. This is something I can live with most days, and it is not surprising to me any longer. I teach because I choose to be the mentor I never had. At the same time, I have also learned that when I meet others who share similar things with me, I should actively seek out their friendship and community.
There is not a great deal that links the four of us, save that each of these three knows me (to varying degrees) and we are all the same age. David Eaves is a Canadian political thinker, Mike Hoye a technological "Angry Young Man," and Luke Hill a stay-at-home philosopher dad. (None of these titles is really accurate, and by sharing URLs I hope to remedy this.)
I asked each of these friends to consider the common link back to me, and my judgment, to be enough to entertain my idea, which is as follows:
I want each of them to read one another's blogs this fall, and for the four of us to plan on getting together for dinner some time in the next six months.
I asked them to read these blogs because I assume they would not otherwise read them; that is, I doubt each of them would choose the others I have put here but for my suggestion. This isn't to say that they won't enjoy one another. Rather, I think that beyond the content of the posts, they will find something more important in each: the best examples I have seen of what it means to live a life of reflective, open writing on the web. I have learned a great deal watching each of them work, so I know it will not be a waste of time.
All three agreed to do it, and I got them started by giving the following 4 posts from the past few weeks as representative samples of each blogger:
- David Eaves - Eat the Young
- Mike Hoye - Health Quote Debate Unquote
- Luke Hill - Plantain and Agronomy
- David Humphrey - Patching the web: on the uses of “View Source”
David Eaves suggested that I turn my email into a blog post, and because he was willing to entertain my idea, I have entertained his. If you'd like to follow our experiment, you can do so by reading these four blogs. You can also consider doing something similar, creating what David calls a "Blog Club -- like a book club, but creator driven."