Blogaversary: Celebration and Re-evaluation

This post marks two blogging milestones for me:

(1) Today is the 2nd anniversary of the start of Ken’s Back Home blog (yay!)
(2) This is the 50th post on Ken’s Back Home blog (double yay!)

I know many other blogs are much older and much bigger. And much more widely read. But honestly, I’m kinda tickled at how far my little experiment has come. As chronicled in last year’s Yearly Checkup post, Ken’s Back Home blog got off to a shaky start, and I really didn’t know how long it would last. Along the way though, I’ve learned a lot, connected with people all over the world, and gotten a lot off my chest. So it’s something to celebrate.

And I’m excited about all that. I really am. But as you may have noticed, I haven’t been posting much lately. In fact, I went most of April and all of May with nary a post on Ken’s Back Home blog.

Why?

Remember how in the last line of this year’s Easter post, I smugly remarked that the difference between bad news and good news is “all a matter of perspective”? Well, ever since Easter, our family and friends have been hit with a run of bad news that has left me with the uncomfortable choice of either finding some of that perspective, or eating my cocky little words.

Pass the ketchup, please?

It’s hasn’t all been terrible. In the midst of the mess, we’ve managed to squeeze in a friend’s wedding and a wonderfully relaxing vacation in the Smoky Mountains. But overall it’s been an emotionally exhausting few months, and I just haven’t felt up to writing. Especially about pursuing dreams and living in the present moment. Because a lot of the time, the present moment was the last place I wanted to be.

March to mid-April is always crunch time at work, with deadlines to meet and everyone pulling on me, needing this or that “ASAP”. I’m not even thinking about “living the dream” during that time. I’m just trying to juggle the flaming swords as they are tossed at me. By the time it’s over, I’m pretty burned out. I need extreme self-care. And I usually get a short breather in May to recuperate.

Not this year.

Starting Easter, the bad news started coming in, for both family members and close friends. And frankly, I just had no more to give. The only thing I could do is try to meet the minimum requirements for a caring response, while all the time my inner child was screaming, “What about me? When do I get a break?”

In light of that, I’ve had to stop writing for a while and think hard about the next step. I’ve had to ask myself how I let my heart get this empty in the first place. I suppose I need to start dreaming again. But there’s a big difference in “living a dream” and “living in a dream”. And there’s nothing like having my chain jerked a few times by Life on Planet Earth to bring me down out of the clouds.

After all, if my dreams can’t survive the bumps and bruises of real life, they are only illusions of my ego, not the dreams of my heart. The heart can persevere. The ego will just go crouch in the corner and pout. I need a dream that doesn’t require constant tending to a bed of roses. A dream that can still be beautiful, even when there are a few weeds in the garden.

So I suppose if there’s any “good news” here, it’s that Ken just got spun around and shown just how far away from “back home” he’s gotten. Now I’ve got some work to do. Each moment, good or bad, offers me a spark of Divine wisdom. About what’s real and what isn’t. About what will pass, and what will remain. The good news is, I get to choose where to place my focus. Whatever I do, I can’t let the bad news choose for me.

All this is easy to say, of course. Doing it is another matter. But at least I’ve got my freaking perspective now, so you can put away the ketchup.

For now…

Starting today, I need to make the words in this post a catalyst for real change. Otherwise they will likely be served up to me along with barbecued crow at the third annual Ken’s Back Home blogaversary party.

 

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Creative Bankruptcy

Because I have been crazy busy lately, and because it’s been almost a month since my last post, and because I can’t think of a single thing to write about, today I’m declaring creative bankruptcy. Mainly to let you faithful readers know that I haven’t been abducted by aliens.

Also, to those of you whose blogs I regularly read and comment on, please accept my apologies for not getting around to your excellent posts. I promise I’ll get back in the groove when the smoke clears…

In the meantime, I’ll direct you to a post I wrote about this time last year called “Soup Kitchen Agape”. The word “agape” here is not the English word that means “wide open” but is a Greek word (pronounced “uh-GAAH-pay”) meaning “love”. There’s supposed to be a hash mark over one of the letters, I’m just not sure which one. Maybe some of you Greek scholars can enlighten me.

Anyway, this word “agape” has been floating around Christian circles since the 1970’s when every self-respecting Jesus Freak knew all the cool New Testament Greek words like “Koinonia”, “Maranatha” and of course, “Agape”. Of the three, Agape managed to become mainstream and survived into the new millennium. If you still use Koinonia and Maranatha, you are a hopeless Jesus hippie, lost somewhere in the middle of Act II of Godspell. But I digress (as those of us in creative bankruptcy so often do)

The ancient Greeks, as the Sunday School lesson goes, had three words for love: one for friendship (Phileo), one for romance (Eros), and this Agape, the highest form of love, which of course, we have understood to be the kind of love God has for us. And because He has loved us in this way, we in turn are to show that same kind of love towards our fellow human beings. But in “Soup Kitchen Agape” I kind of turn that idea on it’s ear.

Why?

Well, it seems Agape has gotten a whitewashing over the years, and has come to mean this “I love everybody in the world” kind of thing. In other words, “I love people I don’t even know or even like or even care about”. Or more to the point, a love without relationship. A love without affection. A love of obligation. And I don’t think that’s the kind of love God wants to bestow upon anybody.

It’s all explained better in the post, so please have a read and maybe let me know what you think:
(Read “Soup Kitchen Agape”)

Grammar? We Don’t Need No Stinking Grammar

In case you were wondering:

  1. Yes, I do know the rules of proper English composition
  2. No, I do not always follow them on this blog.

I’ve labored through my share of book reports and research papers in high school and college. I got A’s on most of them, thankyouverymuch. That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t meticulously adhered to every nit-picking little dictate of English spelling, grammar and punctuation.

So why would an erudite scholar like myself scorn the wisdom of the ages and run roughshod over time-honored practices that have served the likes of Milton, Shakespeare, Longfellow and Poe for centuries?

Well … because this is my blog.

Not theirs.

This is my playground. It’s recess, not English Comp class. I don’t come here to impress academic elitists with my pedantic perfectionism. I may use a preposition to end a sentence with. I might try to occasionally sneak in a split infinitive. Even write a sentence fragment. Or begin a sentence with a conjunction. If I’m really feeling frisky, I might attempt a couple of comma splices and a cliche all in one sentence, don’t worry though, it’s all good.

But it isn’t anarchy. I don’t put words just anywhere. I don’t just throw a bunch of punctuation marks up in the air and let them land on the page willy-nilly. I don’t just use the word “just” just because I just don’t know better. There is a method to this. I do have some conventions. But unlike the rules of English composition, it won’t take a text book the thickness of a brick to explain them to you. In fact, here they are:

  1. As much as possible, try to mimic the natural cadence and rhythms of speech.
  2. Season with humor, altering the punctuation as needed to create comic timing.
  3. If a grammar rule gets in the way, break it. Just have a good reason for it.

Those are the Ken’s Back Home Basic Blogging Rules. In other words …

My rules.

After all, just because some needle-nosed nit-pickers got together centuries ago in some ivy-encrusted tower and concocted something called grammar so they could terrorize their hapless students with it, what is that to me? Writing is art, not academics. Art comes from inspiration, not education. And inspiration breaks the rules instead of making them. You don’t teach art. You give it freedom, inspire it, then get out of the way.

Just ask Milton, Shakespeare, Longfellow and Poe.

So put down your rulers and your red markers, all you needle-nosed nit-picking educators. I did it your way for almost twenty years. You owe me this chance to spread my wings and try something different. From now on, I’m going to:

  1. Listen to and follow the rhythm and cadence of my inner voice.
  2. Season each moment with laughter, and not take everything so seriously.
  3. Take a teensy-weensy step over that line every once in a while.

Those are my rules.

For my blog.

For my life.

Yearly Checkup

Back in June of 2010, I launched Ken’s Back Home blog with the following words:

Life is all we have, Love is all we’re here for.
All the rest is just echoes in the well…

Thus began my first post, entitled “Well, What Do You Know“. In it I recounted a major shift in my spiritual perception which informs much of what I write about here.

Okay …

That’s not exactly how it happened. Let me back up a bit here. Actually, the very first thing I posted – which I deleted two days later – opened with this thought:

Every journey begins with the first step
(So does falling off a cliff…)

That post, entitled “Go For It”, was about how I had been waffling for three months about starting a blog, so I was finally doing it, but I wasn’t sure if anyone would ever read it, and blah blah blah blah blah. I made several major revisions to it before I finally got up the gumption to post it. And I did post it.

But …

After living with it a couple of days, I decided it was just stupid and blew it away. I replaced it with “Well, What Do You Know“, because I figured the words “Life is all we have, Love is all we’re here for” would be a more upbeat beginning to my blog than that business about falling off a cliff.

Shortly after that, I added an “About” page. I liked it, but I never thought it actually explained what the blog was about. I revised it at least a dozen times. Finally I blew it away and replaced it with an earlier “About” page I had previously planned to use with the “Go For It” post (which I deleted). It was okay, but I still didn’t think it introduced the blog very well. Now it’s gone, and the “About the Blog” you see today is a composite of the best ideas from those first two attempts, and finally says what this thing is all about (I think).

Now you know the wobbly, wishy-washy, ambivalent and reluctant beginnings of Ken’s Back Home blog. It was a pretty rough start. Sort of like that scene in Bambi where he’s just learning to walk, but his legs keep sliding out from under him. I never was quite sure why I should be writing a blog. Was I on a “Mission From God”, or just trying to make sense of my changing perceptions? Maybe it was just something fun to do. I didn’t have the slightest idea. I just knew somehow I had to do it. And guess what? I did it.

So …

After twelve months of blogging, it’s time to take inventory. Should I keep this up? Has it been worth the trouble? Or more trouble than it’s worth?

Well, my readership is not exactly up to the level of the New York Times. But folks do stop by every once in a while to check out what I have to say. Some have even left comments (and I really love to get comments hint hint). I’m also starting to get more spam (which I really don’t love to get hint hint). But maybe more spam is another sign the blog is growing. Even if it’s downright annoying.

A year later, the wobbly, wishy-washy, ambivalent reluctance continues. Not a day goes by I don’t wonder why I don’t quit this nonsense. I’ve gotten frustrated and discouraged many times along the way. Almost gave up on the whole thing more than once. But every time I think I’m ready to shut it down, something convinces me not to. That’s why I’m still here – revising, changing, trying new things.

I’m still not sure if I’ve started some grand journey or fallen off a cliff. A little of both, I suppose. But who cares? I still get a kick out of it. Right now, I think I’ll just keep on going.

Even if I never do figure out what the heck I’m doing.