Tuesday, August 05, 2008

With arms wide open

I thought I might be done with blogging. Tired of forcing stories to sound "interesting" and not getting many (or any) comments on posts that took ages to write, I've become disenchanted with the whole process. Even now as I write this, I'm distracted by other things. Despite a very eventful year, things feel as stale as the bag of chips we bought last week and forgot to keep closed. Ironically, I still take great pleasure in reading everybody's blogs, although even writing comments has also become a rarity.

Part of my difficulty stems from the tiny fraction of visitors to this site. Of these, there are even fewer people who respond to my posts. Despite the fact that I'm not some narcissist who needs approval or constant attention from the entire world, I do have a hard time motivating myself to write when there's only 1 person who comments here regularly (I hope he knows just how much I appreciate that).

A good friend of mine who reads this blog told me "you write so well that I never know what else to say". Others tell me in person that they enjoyed something they read the other day. It's come to the point that I never remember who reads my blog and who doesn't - which is fine (I promise!) but after spending an hour writing something that you hope will get a reaction from the world, which then shows 1 comment - you do find yourself losing interest in your own opinion.

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During high school, my friends and I were very involved in music. Playing instruments, singing, participating in choirs and school plays, we were constantly immersed in it. Two of our friends were singers who would regularly get solos, sing in bands or get lead parts in plays - they were The Singers of the group. I desperately wanted to join them. Ever since I was little, I've loved to sing, and having been blessed with an ear for music, can usually stay in pitch. After years of singing in the church choir, I finally forced myself to ignore the dark whisper of stage fright and tried out for some things. My best friend always told me I had a great voice, and to this day she encourages my singing (even though I'll never try out for Canadian Idol like she tells me to), but nobody else had much to say. I interpreted this to mean that my voice wasn't really much of anything, and despite a few moments in the spotlight, kept back and let The Singers do most of the performing.

Yes, this was certainly my hang-up. The problem was compounded by another girl in our group of friends who thought she was fabulous, but couldn't seem to hold the pitch of a note for longer than a beat, and took on a screechy quality when hitting the high notes. But everybody (myself included) told her she was great because we loved her as a person. The lack of reaction to my own singing started making me wonder whether or not previous compliments had been as false as the ones we'd kindly passed to our other friend.

To this day, I still hold myself back - unable to just let it go and enjoy the feeling of joining together with a great song, lifting my voice and celebrating every note. There are very few people who have ever heard me really sing.

Today, I read a post Sully wrote about how grown-ups have forgotten to feel the joy of a moment the ways kids do. Playing in the rain, running so fast that you feel like your legs are going to fall off, laughing so hard that you get tears in your eyes and a sore stomach. Now we worry about getting our hair wet, or looking silly as we run, or whether or not people think we're uncool.

His post reminded me of singing on stage during a school play - getting lost in the character was easier than trying to sing a contemporary song - I stood proudly, voice raised, the regular world outside of the bubble of the story we were in. During the chorus, my eyes drifted to the audience where The Singers were sitting. Flashing a grin at them, I expected a knowing smile back - they were my friends after all. Instead I saw coolness and something close to irritation in both of their eyes.

Luckily my parents raised a confident daughter. Not giving a damn about their lack of support, I finished the night's performance without another thought for either of them. But when the night was over, I remembered. And gradually I let the doubt overshadow the joy of performing.

It's experiences like that night that make us forget to enjoy life the way children can. A friend of mine has a daughter who lives her life in a song. She's always singing - even her conversations are musical. Will she still be so joyful and upbeat at 20?

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This past weekend Jay and I went to visit his family for the annual Canal Days festival. A weekend of live music, great conversation, exploring the waterfront, drinking beer under the stars, and all sorts of other great things - we enjoyed every minute while waiting for Sunday night's fireworks display. Every year the fireworks are incredible, and this year was no exception.

Settling down with chairs, we watched the sky explode with colour.

Each year, the people who put on the display pause after a particularly amazing set of fireworks, tricking the thousands crowded along the Canal into thinking the show is over. The second time they did this, a group of people in front of us immediately jumped up, grabbing their chairs and dashing back to the road. They were in such a hurry that they almost missed the third set.

Shaking our heads at how impatience rules the lives of so many, we looked up as a series of blindingly bright lights careened through the black sky. There were so many fireworks going off that nobody knew where to look. As the noise and colour continued, I looked over at everybody, seeing utter awe in their eyes. Aunt Kim was grinning ear to ear, an expression mirrored on all of our faces. Jaws dropped and hands clapping, I remember thinking that this moment was one of that rare joy that you feel deep down in your belly.

Tired, over-worked, even cynical adults sat there that night laughing like carefree toddlers. In those few minutes we were free from everything.

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I'm not sure what the main point of this post is supposed to be. It took on a lot of twists and turns, including a direction that was completely unexpected. If I was to boomerang back to the beginning, I guess it would be to say that I'm still blogging because of where the process of writing takes me. And things it teaches me. That if you don't have a comment to this post, don't feel obligated to write one - I didn't write about that as a guilt-trip.

If you're reading this, I'm issuing you a challenge: go out and play in the rain. Climb a tree. Do a cannon-ball jump into your pool. Chase your dog through the park. Dance and sing like nobody's watching. Do something that makes you feel like you're five years old with a gigantic bag of candy in your hands and a best friend to share it with. It's easier said than done, yes, but take a moment to LIVE. And while you're enjoying that moment, don't let anyone or anything stop your fun.

And if you're a blogger, write about it. We need more stories like that.

That's all for now...

9 Comments:

  • At 6:56 PM, Blogger Jaimi said…

    Reading your post reminded me of our tentative plans to go karaoke-ing...we'll have to make definite plans soon!!

     
  • At 9:56 AM, Blogger Suldog said…

    M - Thanks! I love your stuff (almost as much as I love mine!)

    I've linked you in the comments on that piece. I hope many folks come over. You deserve it.

     
  • At 10:50 AM, Blogger Hilary said…

    When Sully says to go and read a post, I listen.. unless it's about sports. Then I just smile and nod and back out quietly.

    You DO write well, and you know that. I have no doubt that you probably sing well too. That's all you should care about, but I do understand the disappointment of not getting a bit of confirmation from friends and family.

    I get many daily visits to my sporadic (once to twice a week) blog posts and a growing number of comments per post. Only one consistent poster is someone I know in the real world and even he forgets to read/comment if I don't remind him that I've posted. I feel great disappointment that I don't hear from my friends and relatives but have come to realize that it's just not everyone's thing to read blog posts, and not all of those who do are inclined to say anything about what they've read.

    Instead, I take great pleasure in the comments from those that ARE like-minded. Those that blog.. those that visit others.. and those that share their views.

    I've learned that if I want to get comments, I have to leave comments, which is great because if I enjoy a post, I'm happy to tell the blogger. I also make a point of responding to those who comment on my posts, so that they know I appreciate their views. I suppose it's work if you don't enjoy that sort of thing but I do, so the only negative for me is the time it eats.

    Don't lose heart. You have a wonderful blogging voice. If you share it with others more readily, they'll be sure to come back for more and eventually speak up. I trust Suldog's opinion. I trust my own instincts.. you trust yours and you'll be swimming in recognition before you know it.

     
  • At 3:02 PM, Blogger Melinda said…

    Jai - looking forward to it!

    Sully - as always you brighten my day with your kind words. Thanks for the support!

    Hilary - Wow, you really gave me food for thought there. I'm so glad that the start of this post didn't come off sounding petty or whiny. I blog because I love it, but like we've both said, it can be hard when it seems like you're sending thoughts out into a void. Thanks for the great comment and kind words & I'm heading over to visit yours right now :)

     
  • At 2:01 PM, Blogger Jeni said…

    I trust Sully's judgment about other bloggers writing abilities, so I came here and I see he's quite right. I've been doing this for almost two years now and frequently I do posts that don't get a single comment. It was kind of frustrating at first that none of my family ever comments -well, my older daughter has commented I think maybe 3 times, possibly 4 -but a cousin who reads my blog (she once told me she reads it daily) has never commented, probably never will but then, she rarely writes an e-mail too. I think I have 3-4 readers (friends who actually "know" me, personally) and they've never commented on my blog but two of them do occasionally e-mail me about a post. The rest of my readers are all people I have picked up along the way -fellow bloggers -and many of them have now become like the people who are my next-door neighbors. I read blogs on my blogroll daily using my reader (which I just finally got operating properly again yesterday) and some days I comment, sometimes not. Don't take silence as a sign that no one is reading, no one cares about your blog or any of that though. Just keep writing because you enjoy it, because you want to leave a little mark in the annals of the world that you visited and also, do it because you are very good at it too! That's my theory anyway.
    Oh and as far as the dancing/singing like no one is watching -that's generally how I always dance, sometimes sing then too. No one would want to see me dance cause I have two left feet, but I can carry a tune and used to be a pretty decent alto! (Too many beers and way too much nicotine and caffeine will do you in ya know!)
    I added you to my reader so you'll be on my daily read list now, thanks to Sully's great referral.

     
  • At 8:51 PM, Blogger Melinda said…

    Thanks Jeni - I'm heading over to your blog right now!

     
  • At 2:58 PM, Blogger Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said…

    I'm thankful that I read Suldog's blog today because that's how I got here. Your writing is a pleasure to read, and I've spent the last 15 minutes browsing through your previous posts the most recent one really touched my heart; I'm wishing for a happy ending, too.

    I've subscribed to a feed from your site, and will now know when you post new material, which I *will* read -- and try to leave a comment so you'll know I was here.

     
  • At 4:29 PM, Blogger Thimbelle said…

    I fall into the whole "blogging because I need to say something" category.

    I used to post more frequently - but recent and ongoing events have slowed my posts to nearly a trickle.

    But - in my head there are a million posts, all just waiting for the chance to get out, and onto the screen. And whether anyone reads them or not... I hope to someday empty as many of them from my head as possible! ;)

    I'll try to do a better job of commenting as well.

    Thim :)

     
  • At 1:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow! So many comments. I think one problem may be this blogging site as I posted a comment to Steve and when I went in the next day it wasn't there. In fact there were no comments which in my mind is unbelievable considering how heart wrenching it was.

    Acting like a child is so invigerating and I can't wait for our swim in second Ella off the boat with blonde.

    Perhaps we should bellow out at our campfires.

    See you soon!!!

     

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