Onward and …downward?

Vanitas still life (cropped), by Stevers, 1630 – 1660. Rijksmuseum.

I write now on the edge. I don’t know if I will have the self-confidence to publish, and if I do, is it just another narcissistic venture adding to those already crowding the web?

Looking at the title of this post and the blog name and description, you would think that I would devote myself to depression.

It is not so.

I’ve blogged for a few years, with various blogs and various levels of success. Most were never published. All except this one are locked and out of public view, because they represent a time and interests that seems mostly behind me. I used to blog with enthusiasm, often venturing into areas I didn’t really know much about, as someone willing to learn.

Since then, I’ve had a minor health crisis — nothing exciting, and nothing unusual for a lot of men my age, but big enough health issues to portend a more urgent crisis if they were not dealt with soon. And with the health crisis came a realization: I will not have time to do everything I have dreamt of. Life gets shorter, daily, hourly, by the minute. Blogging, and many of my other interests, were left at the wayside.

Onward and downward. I spent some time trying to find an appropriate name for this blog. One recurring theme for a title was variations on, “Over the hill, and far away.” All the dreams and imaginings of what I could do with my life facing the reality that most are not achievable, that death will overtake me before finishing anything.

Shelves of books, many unread: learning neglected.

A nature study, a room with microscopes and slides and homemade sealants and mediums — mostly unused.

Drawers of photographs, boxes of slides, hard drives with gigabytes of images, a history of our lives, most of which will never see the light of day.

Stories unwritten.

Jobs unfinished.

Friendships, some never realized, all neglected.

The realization that life is absurd. While certainly most find meaning in life, it all ends with inescapable death. Our lives, the planet, our solar system, the universe—all destined to fail. Trying to pretend that life has meaning is empty, delusional.

Yet, with all this failure and futility, I can’t help but feel some optimism. This is hard to put into words, but there is a freedom knowing that all is futile, because I am alive, and that is a wondrous thing. Life is not about “creating meaning, “, but finding value along the way. Finding value in all that is true, good and beautiful, in love and relationships, in the daily routine, in the little things in life.

The memento mori image that heads this blog is a nudge, a stoic tool to help remind me that death or incapacity can strike at any time, and that I should make the most out of life while I am capable.

Devoting myself to weight loss and a healthier diet distracted me from a mild depression that I was already in before my diagnosis. Under a good doctor’s care and a loving wife and family, I actually shed the unnecessary weight and regained interest in some former pursuits, and even developed some new interests. Out of that, this new blog was born.

What will be different about this blog, compared to the others that I have worked on over the years?

It will have no single subject, no consistent theme. I will write on whatever takes my fancy, whether that is driven by pleasure or frustration. It will be more personal, often expanding on my experiences and how I relate (or cannot relate) to the world. I want to explore different subjects as exercise for the mind. I want to explore more that is true, good and beautiful.

I appreciate comments. If I get facts wrong, tell me and let me know your sources. If you don’t like my opinion or conclusions, let me know why. All that is given with good intent will be received in the same light.


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