The last time I posted an article on this blog was November 6th. Up until then, I’d posted about 1,900 articles–about one every day and a half for a number of years. It’s hard work trying to find something to say that’s (hopefully) new, worthwhile, insightful and still not too long. I was, to some extent, exhausted. Burnt out.
It wasn’t just burn-out from the writing. I love writing. Not because I love telling my ideas to others. That’s good, but it’s not my primary motivation. I love writing because it teaches me. I don’t seek to teach by writing. I (mostly) seek to learn by writing.
If some idea strikes me as kinda interesting, normally, that idea would go in one ear and quickly out the other to be quickly forgotten as merely a kind of curiosity. But, if I write about that obscure idea, all of a sudden I begin to see the idea in greater depth. I begin to see things that were not initially apparent. Writing slows my thought process down and makes me think about things rather than quickly dismiss them as trivialities. The process of writing makes me think, makes me see, makes me learn.
I love it. My life is no picnic, but I consider myself hugely blessed by circumstances that allow me to write for a living. I’m not a rich writer. I’m not a great writer. But I am a writer. I’m not just proud of that. I’m grateful to the Good LORD.
I saw a report in the 1990s that claimed there were only about 1,000 people in the whole country who could support themselves as independent writers. There might be hundreds of thousands or even millions of Americans who write for a living as employees of corporations, ad agencies or government departments. But according that report, there were only about 1,000 self-employed writers who could support themselves in the entire country. I’m one of those 1,000. I’m proud of that. Grateful.
My status as one of those “chosen 1,000” has more to do with my willingness to live on next to nothing than my ability as a writer. Still, I’m one of those 1,000–or by now, maybe that number is 2,000 or 10,000 independent, self-employed writers. No matter. I’m still proud and grateful to be able to support myself by writing.
But writing is hard work. I doubt that many people realize how stressful it is to keep trying to writing articles that show some new idea, insight or perspective. Every day. Every week. For years. It’s hard work.
Trying to write something almost every day that is: 1) insightful; and 2) hopefully, doesn’t waste readers’ time is challenging. It’s fascinating. Educational (for me). But it’s not just an adventure, it’s also a job.
Plus, I’m no spring chicken. I’ll be 72 next month and I’m grateful for the health I still have. But I don’t have the same health and energy I had just 10 years ago. 20 years ago, I could and did work 100 hours a week. Had to. I was going broke. I wasn’t smart enough to know what to do, so, all I did was overpower my problem with long hours. It worked. Nearly killed me. I had chest pains and tingling down both arms. I don’t know what those symptoms meant, but I assumed they signaled an imminent heart problem. I kept working. I figured I could work up to 110 hours a week before I croaked, so, working only 100 hours per week gave me a 10-hour margin for error.
Eventually, I hired some help. Cut my hours back to a mere 80 hours a week. I felt as revitalized as if I was on vacation.
But, those days are gone. Twenty years ago, I could work 100 hours a week. Today, I doubt that I can work more than 40 hours a week. You get older and your body starts to slow down.
But that was only part of the reason I stopped posting articles on this blog for four months.
The biggest reason was the Trump election.
I was exhausted after the election was decided. I’ve never before been emotionally invested in an election. This time, however, the threat of Hillary winning left me frantic.
During the election, I didn’t realize or even suspect how deeply obsessed I was by the election. I was for Trump, big time.
But I was even more against Hillary. The idea that that woman could be elected President scared me. If she had been elected, I would probably have seen it as a sign from the Good LORD that He had written this country completely off. I did not view Hillary’s potential election as an ordinary candidacy. I saw it as a possible curse and a judgment from God.
I talked about Hillary on my radio shows. But I didn’t write about her or Trump to any degree that might seem obsessive. However, only after the election was decided did I figuratively collapsed from exhaustion. It was at that point that I first realized how deeply involved I’d become in the election. I felt like a man who’d just crossed the finish line in a marathon race. I needed to lie down.
After the election, I stopped co-hosting my radio show for a week. I stopped writing my blog. I thought I’d get back to the blog in a few days–but, instead, it took me four months to start writing this, my next post. I really needed the time off.
Then There’s the Leg
About 2 months ago, I walked over to the grocery store about a half mile away. I hadn’t been getting much exercise and both of my legs “locked up” with some serious pain. My left leg “healed” in just an hour or two, but my right calf was too sore for me to walk on for a couple of weeks. There was a cord running down the center of my right calf that was as thick as my thumb that healed very, very slowly. I don’t know what it was. Maybe a sprain. Maybe some irritation between the muscle and sheath in my calf. Some people thought maybe I had some sort of clot in my leg’s veins.
It’s only this last week that my right calf was finally strong enough and sufficiently pain-free for me to try walking back over to the grocery store. This time, no problems.
But the message is clear. I have to exercise more often. I like to exercise, but I hate to take time off from writing or reading to work out. I love that writing, but it’s not healthy work. You can’t sit on your butt all day and expect to live to be 100.
There’s a Woman
Nothing romantic. I’m too old for that. Besides she’s 150 miles away.
But she’s having some legal problems and she’s had some remarkable success as a pro se. I give her a little advice from time to time. Sometimes she even takes it. Mostly she rejects it. Very hard-headed.
Nevertheless, we talk a lot over the phone. I’ll bet we talk at least 30 hours a week. It’s almost a full-time job talking to her. But I enjoy it. She reminds me of me. Our seemingly endless conversations, and movies once in a while, and Bible study on Friday nights, may be the biggest real reason I haven’t gotten back to the blog for the past four months.
I’m kinda like Gerald Ford in that regard: I can’t talk and post articles at the same time.
Return of the Watchman?
I was recently arguing with a friend over a biblical issue and I brought up the concept of the “watchman on the wall” found in Ezekiel (if I recall correctly). According to the Bible, if the watchman sees the enemy coming and warns the people and they ignore his warning, their blood will be on their own heads. But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and fails to warn the people, their blood will be charged to his (the watchman’s) account.
Right or wrong, I’ve thought of myself as a “watchman” for the past 26 years. I’m not trying to flatter myself. I’m just telling you that that’s how I’ve thought since about A.D. 1990. But I’d kind of forgotten that job description and that job’s obligations until my recent biblical debate.
Now, I’m reminded that I can’t abandon my watchman job without being held accountable for the injuries to those who I might’ve otherwise warned.
Therefore, I now have reason to pack a lunch, “climb back up on the wall” and keep my eyes peeled to “sound the alarms” with articles on this blog.
I’ve been absent for this Winter of My Discontent. Some of you have written to ask if I was OK. I am and I appreciate your concern.
Now it’s Springtime (at least hear on Texas) and time for me to get back to work.
Thanks for waiting.