Sunday, July 22, 2007

Why so personal?

Someone asked me the other day why I write such personal stuff in such a public forum. I have to wonder if they think I'm embarrassing myself here. My answer was that I never really know what's going to come out when I write until it's done. Unless I'm working on something that's been researched and is dealing with quantifiable, verifiable information, my writing is really just my observations and reactions. Though I try to have an orderly mind, my blog writing is fairly stream of consciousness, and the personal cannot help but emerge.

There's more to it than that though. I firmly believe that most people do not understand things on a big scale. Issues like prejudice in all its various "isms", nationalism, freedom,democracy, God, religion, faith, many issues...overwhelm us. They become just too much, and when we exceed our limits of being able things on a big scale, we just shut down. It doesn't always mean that we don't or can't care, we're just at our always changing threshold of being able to handle the world.

For me, Darfur is one of those issues. Genocide, the janjaweed, a corrupt government we may have supported but then didn't, UN involvement -- my head and my heart start spinning. The only way I can handle it is on the simplest level -- what is happening in Darfur is REALLY, REALLY BAD, and the big generic "We" need to do something about it. Well, I'm part of that "We", which means that I have some personal responsibility here, but I don't know what I can do. However, when I read the story of a kid in a refugee camp, I can understand the effects of the bigger issues, and I get a clearer idea of what can be done. Big issues are only abstracts until seen through human eyes.

All of our lives, no matter how mundane they may seem, are affected by these big abstract issues, and their meaning is revealed in our thoughts and actions. An accurate description of eating a frozen dinner in front of the TV can give someone a greater understanding of how to deal with hatred. The potential is there.

So, when I go off about being confused with the state of my life, proud of my diet results, confounded by the challenges of raising a smart teenage daughter, it is very personal, but it can be so much more. There's an old saying that the political is the personal. Well, politics is literally the process by which groups of people make decisions. The observation, then, of a personal live can reveal the ideas and opinions an entire society holds.

That seems reason enough to me to keep on writing as I do.

blogging, blogging


Blogger Virginia said...

Tell your friend that the world is a better place because you do write!

Peace, Virginia

July 22, 2007 5:37 PM  
Blogger gigi said...

Aach! I just wrote a post in which I stated that I am wary of writing too often of the personal online. Interesting.

But it is the nature of the personal blog to be just that ~ we have only to choose our parameters. In the end I think how personally you write is simply an aspect of how comfortable you are with the public forum, as well as a matter of subject and style. Chacun a son gout.

You choose to write your heart, and do so beautifully.

July 22, 2007 7:01 PM  
Blogger Wenda said...

Seems reason enough to me, too.

July 22, 2007 9:22 PM  
Blogger Loz said...

It's the personal that keeps me coming back

July 23, 2007 2:08 AM  
Blogger Theresa Williams said...

The first question that comes to my mind is: What else is worth writing about? I don't see how we can separate the personal from everything else. Your writing is gorgeous and important. We all hope you keep doing it.

July 23, 2007 2:47 AM  
Anonymous laura said...

I have debated "why so personal?" too... and have realized that I can't be anything but me; I lack the ability (the imagination?) to be opaque - smoke and mirrors. I think I would be a lousy spy and an even worse politician - my face says it all, and I find it difficult to hide my true self though I am the keeper of many, many other people's inner demons and secrets.

Besides, like you, I love the potential of the medium. While it is still in its infancy, it really does have an amazing ability to touch, reach and grab... and I cannot help but taste that aphrodisiac. Potent, isn't it?

July 23, 2007 4:36 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Most bloggers, that are worth reading, have a personal bent to their writing.

Sometimes you reveal yourself more than others, but that adds to, what, your authenticity?

July 23, 2007 6:53 PM  
Blogger Gannet Girl said...

Yes, I'm with Theresa.

I tend to avoid anything that is someone else's "personal" -- which means that soemtimes I have to leave my own out, too.

But you are completely right that it is the personal that resonates on a broader scale.

July 24, 2007 7:54 AM  

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