15 January

What Am I About? Peter, I Am About Living. Not Tomorrow, Not Yesterday. Right Now.

by Jon Katz

I got a text this morning from Peter,  a young creative writing student at the University of California.

He is studying the convergence of journalism, writing, and blogging for a term paper.

He hopes to publish his blog when he graduates and has been reading mine at the recommendation of one of his professors. It was a flattering letter since most journalists and writers don’t consider blogs to be about either.

We boggers are in our new world, cutting our paths, making our history. Nobody knows what to make of us.

As a perennial outsider, that feels just right.

As younger people do (Peter loves Instagram), Peter asked me to keep my answer brief, as he is pressed for time and on deadline.

Peter lives in a world of short messages, brief videos, and text messaging.

I come from a different world, even though it often crosses over into his. I’ve stuck to my world of longer messages, as many of you know. I write very few short ones, which I’ll try to do here.

It is healthy to be asked what I  care about and what my blog is about, as that forces me to think about it and try to articulate it.

It’s not simple, as the blog is now the central element of my creative life and how I earn a living. I also love it very much.

First, Peter, I’ll tell you what my blog is not about.

It is not about politics, although I explore the subject once in a while. Modern politics is like opioids; it can take you over, split you in half, and keep you angry, frightened, and warped. It can be unhealthy. It takes people over and can be poisonously addictive and increasingly angry.

I won’t let that happen to me.

I won’t let that happen to my blog.

My blog is not about anger.

It is not about hatred, although I have too often come close to crossing that bridge.

It is not about the future. It is not about the past.

My blog is about the now, about today, about my life.

My blog is my great and hopefully lasting work, my memoir, the story of one man’s life, and nothing more.

My blog is about mental illness and recovery, aging with grace and dignity, and finding and keeping love in my life.

My blog is about the freedom to write what I wish, when I want to, on whatever subject I choose.

I have been told that I am an idiot savant; I know a little about many things, a lot about nothing.

( An idiot savant, if you don’t know, Peter, is a person who has a mental or learning disability but can be gifted in several particular ways, such as writing frequently and quickly and performing curious feats of memory or specific interest. Blogs are good for idiot savants.)

My blog is about authenticity.

I like to say you get the good Katz and the bad Katz, but you always get the real one. That is my goal and my policy. I promised to be open and share my life authentically, and I believe I have mostly lived up to that.

Most of the blogs I read when I began this blog in 2011 were not authentic; they are about the author looking good and justifying his or her existence. I felt I had to do better than that.

I could go on, but this reply is already long, and I need to wrap it up with perhaps the most crucial thing me and my blog are about:

My blog is about living. It is, taken together, the story of a life, for better or worse. It is not about dying or trying or hoping or complaining or hoping. But living.

It’s about living right now, every single day, to the best of my ability. Oh yes, and taking photos and writing a lot and loving my life, my farm, my animals, and my new Leica camera.

My blog is about doing good as often as I can for as long as possible.

I hope this is helpful to you and is what you need. I can’t be any shorter than this; it’s 743 words long; I know it’s like the Encylopedia Brittanica compared to an Instagram message.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call. I was a college professor once, and I wish you well. I hope to see your blog one day.

 

5 Comments

  1. Jon…
    I sometimes think of your posts as a real-time memoir. I hope that someday you will bind it together, to permit us some perspective.

    It is not unusual for new discoveries to be initially misused while communities are uncovering their best-suited purposes. The history of social media seems to be following this pattern.

    I believe that creations such as the blog are evolutionary steps in the advancement of shared thought and knowledge, following such milestones as:
    • Johannes Gutenberg’s press, which gave us the ability to reproduce and share written thoughts.
    • Samuel Morse’s telegraph, which gave these thoughts a sense of immediacy.
    • Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, which provided a public platform for their rich expression.

    But the present danger is that social media’s bad press could obscure its latent benefits. How often do people form a personal opinion based on the impressions of others?

    Hopefully, pathfinders like Peter can help clarify a sensible direction. While thesis papers might lack the polish of professional offerings, they often convey content that is meaningful, and sometimes more creative.

  2. “Peter lives in a world of short messages, brief videos, and text messaging.”
    Don’t they all these days!
    Personally, I LOVE DETAILS!!! It drives my daughters crazy.

  3. Your comment that your blog is “about the now” is perfect. It is exactly what a living blog accoun of a life should be–if there were any rule for this new form, this should be an important one. It differentiates from “dead and gone” print, which cannot be altered once it has left the writer’s hands or can seldom engage with its readers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Email SignupFree Email Signup