In Others
November 19, 2009

Well. Yesterday went pretty well. I was feeling pleased with myself. Got up before 8am, went to a morning meeting without any ‘oh god, do I really have to get out of bed’ drama, mentally composing a post about how amazing my whole new way of living is. On the way back from the meeting, spotted this building with three sculptures of naked blue men playing instruments climbing up a wall – if that isn’t a metaphor for joyful aspiration and achievement, I don’t know what is.

And then inevitably last night I got distracted, stayed up too late, and when the alarm went off at 7.45am this morning there was a migraine waiting on the bridge of my nose and the edges of my forehead. Fail. Exhaustion. Of course by the time I got up the emails were already piling up in great drifts around my ankles. Just about managed to drag myself out of the house at 4pm to watch the sunset.

But, to me, this is why blogs are interesting. I like reading other people’s blogs because of the day-to-day-ness of them. Unlike novels, or journalism, or TV shows, they are very immediate. If someone is blogging about their improved fitness or their journey out of debt or their struggle with depression or their work on a novel or their fledgling company or whatever and things start to go wrong they either 1) disappear or 2) just ‘fess up that it hasn’t worked out today/this week/this month. And it happens to everyone, because despite what self-help books might promise, no one’s life is a 100% upward trend.

There’s a thing therapists say about how most of us spend too much time comparing our insides to everyone else’s outsides. We look at other people: they all seem perfect, healthy, productive, happy, well-adjusted and generally coping well with life. We look at ourselves: we often feel grumpy for no reason, wonder if we’ve made the right choices, second-guess ourselves, feel ugly, lazy or stupid, worry that we’re not rich enough, funny enough, thin enough, wish that we were more successful, got more done and failed less often.

The nice thing about blogs though is that there’s no concealing failure. (Unless you lie, I guess. But I haven’t seen too many obviously dishonest blogs. I wonder why.) Either you stop blogging: failure. Or you blog and admit that not everything’s perfect. Even this guy, Thomas Barnett. He’s a very successful person, mostly putting up dozens of posts a day on very clever ideas about America’s foreign policy and strategy. And then suddenly he posts about his horrible infected sinus cyst, which has caused him huge amounts of pain and discomfort for the past six months. It was quite shocking to find this post among his other astute observations on diplomacy and the world’s military hot-spots. Basically no one is fine all the time, whether because of physical or mental health issues, business setbacks or family traumas. Blogs, like diaries, reveal the minor setbacks as well as the major successes.

So, failure today, but back on the horse tomorrow. And then it’s Saturday which is my day off anyway! And then it’s only four weeks until it starts to get lighter again…

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