Taking the Plunge

I spent a long time avoiding starting a blog.

No real reason, just didn’t want to bother.

Instead, I did my thinking out loud on Facebook, with extremely tight privacy settings. I figured, the people I really know are the people who care — and even a lot of the people I know, probably don’t actually care. Why presume that strangers would care more?

It took time — a lot of time — spent actively not thinking about blogging to reach the point where I could no longer ignore the ghost of a blog wandering the rambling corridors in the haunted house of my mind.

And that’s the thing. It is a haunted house. Haunted by the thoughts that have nowhere else to go.

Maybe you’ve heard the dad joke: I had an idea once. It died of loneliness.

Not long ago, I read “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, by Ernest Hemingway. An adventurous, hard-drinking writer — whose resemblance to the author is almost comically transparent — is on safari and dying of gangrene. Among his many thoughts are a host of inchoate regrets for all the things he didn’t write — the things he was saving for later, for when he would be able to do them justice.

So much for that.

It’s no great leap of literary analysis to recognize that Hemingway uses the story to work through some of his own fears. He said himself that he put “all the true stuff in”, enough for novel upon novel, yet all of it only briefly glossed in the addled mind of a character whose life may just be flashing before his eyes.

Better, Hemingway seems to have thought, to get it down once, even briefly or poorly or incompletely, than to take the risk of never getting it down at all.

Hemingway was a famous risk-taker. It’s interesting to me that the risk of dying with words still unuttered in his mind was the risk that gnawed him.

Here’s this guy who is basically out to do everything to the utmost, to leave absolutely everything on the field — to do all the drinking and traveling and shooting and loving and brawling he can possibly cram in. Honestly, it sounds exhausting.

But the ideas. He dreaded not being able to cram them in, as well. He dreaded dying with something left to say.

I think that’s why the haunted house seems so crowded these days. You’ve probably noticed that the world is in one hell of a state. There’s so much to think about — but not only to think about.

Thinking, and only thinking, leaves the ghosts of ideas to wander the house alone, treading the same paths over and over, with no trace but a sigh, a creak, a shiver. A quick turn of the head, a furtive glance — no, nothing there. Go on about your business.

Yes, there’s so much to think about — but mere thinking, I fear, means keeping something back.

The truth is, there’s so much to say.

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