I was struck today, looking at my collection of Blog “Tags”, just how much they reveal about my character and obsessions.
If you look at the “Tag Cloud” in the footer to this post, you will see the topics which have most interested me these past two years.
Of course it is not an exact science, but I found it rather revealing. Depression and happiness are the clear winner,s followed by some obviously and closely related topics: peace, mood, qualia, consciousness.
And how about “Stock Market”? While it features prominently, it is not something I have written about much recently. It is true that I have recently spent weeks drafting a new trading algorithm (with enjoyment I might add) but writing about markets is not something that lights up my day in the same way as contemplating happiness or trying to beat gloom.
Happily I have been on a roll recently – for the time being the beast is tamed, but who knows if and when a downturn into the murky waters of the Styx may next come.
Many of my other well trodden themes are also closely related to my big number tags. The whole spirituality gig is clearly a major part of my personality and so “Book of Common Prayer” looms large as do the topics “Meditation” and “Mysticism”. Reality and silence also feature quite highly but I find it interesting to note that actual “religion” in the form of dogma barely features at all. Christianity, Buddhism and Islam are more notable by their absence than their inclusion. As I have often stressed, man made god in his own image rather than the reverse, whereas to me at least “spirituality” is something inbuilt and natural in many of us. A yearning for transcendence and meaning.
If I wanted to tread the boards of psychoanalysis (which I assuredly do not) then I suppose these tendencies of mine could be usefully placed alongside dreams and rorschach tests, to reveal the murky depths of my damaged mind.
As it is, I no longer feel the need for third party interpretation of my peculiarities, and self observation is a tool of far greater use to me than the therapists’ couch. True, there are rare occasions I feel so weary that chatting seems an attractive option, but after so many years of staring up my own fundamental orifice, I do not believe there is much either they or I could add.
In a circular way this brings me back to something I wrote a year or so ago about the purpose of a blog, the motivation for writing when few will want to listen to my meandering drivel.
As I said then and repeat now, I write to explain myself, not to my audience but to my own mind.
Yesterday’s post on ignoring the past is a good example. I do not claim I felt dismal retreading a childhood journey, and witnessing the somewhat dark memories that were brought to the surface, but writing down my feelings last night was very healing.
I have no right to complain and little to grumble about and yet I have found aspects of family life and dynamics deeply destructive and disturbing over the years. To write about my feelings was, therefore, a catharsis. It was getting real with myself. This is my interpretation of what happened and this is how it has made me feel all these years.
I no longer intend to feel that way.
I must be ready to drop those useless worries, those sometimes sad memories of childhood and move on.
Repetition may be dull but it serves its purpose. Say it to yourself often enough and gradually with practice it becomes a habit. With a bit of vigilance and self discipline one can begin to put these thoughts aside as they arise.
All of this may sound like the spoilt whining of someone who has actually been more blessed than most. There has, in reality, been little lacking in my life.
And yet if we are to prove useful to ourselves and those around us, we must never cease to question ourselves, our thoughts, actions and deeds.
If there are things in our past we would rather not repeat (whatever the reason) then we must remain aware. Self aware. So that what sounds like self obsession may in fact more charitably (and accurately) be described as making every effort to stay on track. Not only for yourself but for all those around you.
Without constant introspection, I at least would be in danger of behaving in a fashion my better self would not admire.
And I think other Tags on my website also emphasize a constant desire to be wary of falling into less admirable patterns of behavior. Conflict, class, evil, purpose, other people, hypocrisy.
So, yes, a blog can be a window onto the soul. It can help greatly (or so I find) in reminding me when I stray from the path of reasonable and decent behavior.
Once I notice, with a bit of luck, I may be able to stagger back onto the path of decency and kindness.
Illustration: Frans Hals – Portrait of René Descartes