As I write, it’s a rainy February afternoon in 2014, but the striking thing about this blog is that the last post is dated July 2011. I’ve been busy with all sorts since then, and I still am, but I have decided to give blogging another go. This time round I don’t intend to take quite the same approach. In the past I’ve often tried to write something that reflects a well thought through, settled opinion. Now I intend to use my blog more to process partial thoughts, and invite the input of others. There will probably be more quotes, and reflections on what I’m reading and watching, and most posts will probably be quite short. Think of them as starters, then come and join the conversation!
Since Monday I’ve been residing in the “unusually luxurious” Cloverly Hall on the Relay 2 training conference. As a consequence I’ve not had the opportunity to write a blog post for today. Next week I daresay I’ll post some reflections on the conference, but if you find the intervening period just too long to cope without something from me, I have provided the following for your viewing/reading pleasure:
- David Cameron and Nick Clegg turn out to be quite a good comedy double act
- A very clever optical illusion, and another one. Can you work out how they’re done before the camera reveals all?
- A video of juggling quite unlike anything you’re likely to have seen before
- Have you ever seen a 27 tonne robotic dinosaur setting fire to a car before? (No, it’s not photoshop, it really does exist!)
- And finally a truly fantastic news story, which is both good news and just plain awesome!
Apparently the 4th of May is the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in Jamaica, the start of Napoleon’s exile in Elba, and Margaret Thatcher’s election victory which made her the first (and so far, only) female prime minister of the United Kingdom. And it is of course Star Wars day – May the 4th be with you, and all that.
But for me the 4th of May 2009 marked the start of something, namely this blog. I kicked things off with my reasons for blogging. Then I entered a flurry of activity, posting 17 more entries in the rest of the month. Then, once my initial enthusiasm settled down, I sporadically posted whatever rubbish sprang to mind at a rather slower rate.
A year and a half later, the blog is still here, and in recent months I seem to have settled into a comfortable rhythm of scheduling my thoughts to go online at 3pm every Saturday, with only occasional midweek entries. Why am I doing it?
The main reason for writing a blog is that, quite simply, I enjoy it. It’s not a chore but a pleasure to produce a moderate amount of writing. It’s not a high priority for me, which is why I couldn’t sustain blogging much more frequently, but I do enjoy a bit of writing. It’s been pleasant to put my thoughts on various issues into words, and it has forced me to think some of them through more.
I hope that my writing has become more interesting over the last year and a half. I’m not an especially creative person, but perhaps writing is something that gets the creative juices flowing just a little. Very occasionally I’ll produce a sentence I think rolls of the tongue well, or is particularly apt for capturing a certain thought. Hopefully the sentences themselves are ignored, their construction subsumed by their meaning, but I appreciate the mental effort of producing them.
I don’t really use the blog to keep friends up to date, which was one of my original intentions. Partly I suspect this is because most of my friends don’t read it, but mainly because I think when I write about what I’m doing without any opinion it is boring to write. Presumably it is also boring to read. If you don’t believe me, check out the ill-fated ‘week in retrospective’ series.
The last of my original intentions was to share by thoughts about God. It’s fair to say this has become more dominant than I intended, with this being the first post in several months to not have much relevance to Christianity. Thinking through my faith in more depth has been an especially big part of my life in the last few months and clearly this overflows into my choice of blog topics. I don’t see this as a problem though, and I daresay I will continue to draw blog posts from my thinking about the Christian God. I hope that in doing so I stimulate your thoughts.
Why do you enjoy blogs (whether you read them or write one)?
It turns out that asking friends for suggestions for blog posts is not necessarily a good idea. It seemed a bit strange to ask for ideas when I have 55 blog posts in varying stages of draft at the moment, but I wanted to post something fairly light and trivial. Most of those ideas need development (which I suppose is why they’re still drafts, not fully fledged posts). I asked a friend of mine, Nathan, for an idea for a blog post, and sure enough he delivered the goods. As it happens, he wants me to blog about how amazing he is.
Perhaps I should start with his amazing humility.
As I thought about it, it did occur to me that he is actually quite amazing. Not the most amazing person I know, obviously, but still amazing in a good way. For a start he can juggle, which is always a good start for anyone trying to be amazing. He also owns an impressive array of entertaining T-shirts. I don’t actually know if that’s true or not, but he has at least two that I’ve noticed, making him possibly the only person who owns any clothing I could describe. I’m not the most observant chap in the world.
But back to Nathan (after all, he is amazing). We met early on this academic year as he is a Christian fresher at the university of Reading. I don’t remember our first meeting, but we got on well from the start. It must be because Nathan is such an amazing conversationalist. We’re quite similar people in many ways (except that he is more amazing than me) so I think I’ve been able to relate to him better than I can to most people.
Technically, me and Nathan go further back than our time at university. Last summer I had the privilege of working for UBM in their Leeds office, and Nathan booked to come on a UBM team. Apparently he was in the background of a phone call I answered. His amazingness didn’t really shine through though, as he never actually spoke to me. Lucky him!
Another one of the many amazing things about Nathan is his sense of humour. It takes an amazing person to make their facebook profile picture a photo of them falling out of a car. It takes an amazing person to sit opposite me and not mind the extent of my sarcasm, and still make jokes which are actually funny. It takes an amazing person to take a video of me not-quite-dancing, and put it in an infinite loop online.
There are other things I could say about the amazing Nathan, like the fact his word of the day is both cheese and pencil today (but it’s still a singular word of the day, not multiple words). Thinking about it, that doesn’t really show how amazing he is, but he asked me to include it anyway. In fact, the reality is that there is only one more thing I actually want to say about Nathan.
As I’ve got to know Nathan more throughout the year, the main reason I think he is amazing is that I have found him to be a tremendous encouragement to my soul. He has been amazing, because he has supported me as I’ve failed God time and time again. He has been amazing, because he is so often able not only to sympathise, but also to empathise. He has been amazing in his comforting of me when I’ve felt very low, giving me very wise advice. He has been amazing in sharpening my Bible study in a way matched only by one other individual in the last three years. Most amazing of all has been seeing Nathan’s growth in Christ, which I think he is completely oblivious to.
I think ultimately the reason Nathan is amazing is because God has adopted him, and given him to me as a friend and encourager. By God’s grace, he’s doing a good job of it, so when I say Nathan is amazing, I think I mean God is amazing. And I’m grateful to Him for Nathan.
When I started this blog, I decided it was primarily for my own interest. Selfish maybe, but I decided I wasn’t going to be blogging to make other people happy (though that would of course be a desirable side effect). I always said to myself that if I stopped finding blogging enjoyable, I would stop blogging.
From looking at the frequency of my blog posts, you could be forgiven for thinking that time has come. As it happens, that’s not true. I have obviously got over the novelty which drove my May blogging spree, but I still love writing out my thoughts and sending them into the void for anyone to read. It takes much more time and commitment than I ever expected, but my head is buzzing with ideas I can’t wait to put into words.
If you’re not a fan of this blog, then this would be a good time to stop reading it. In fact, why are you here anyway? If, however, you do derive some enjoyment or use from my meandering missives then this would be a good time to keep an eye open for new posts. I won’t promise regularity, or an abundance of material, but I do intend to put out a lot more blog posts in the near future.
But not just now. That would be too easy wouldn’t it‽
Isn’t it vain to start a blog whose name is deliberately chosen so its initials spell your own name? Yes, it probably is. But I hope This Is Me is an appropriate title. I want this blog to be about me. I want this blog to show me to the world around me. I want this blog to be honestly me. Is that too self-centred? Possibly, but I hope I can let people into my life without missing out the people (particularly God) who help mould me.
I think the obvious content for my first blog post should be the reason behind starting a blog. As it turns out, there are several. In no particular order, I want to:
- Jump on the blogging bandwagon. Yes, I know this is about 6 years after everyone else. At the time blogging first became popular, I blogged a few posts on what was then an MSN space (now a windows live space). I didn’t have anything to say, and there was no-one to read it. The first of those situations has changed. The less said about the second, the better I suspect.
- Improve my writing skills. I think writing is a useful life skill, and I want mine to become clearer and more polished. I would also like this to translate across into the way I think and speak. A blog will encourage me to critically review what I am writing, and think about whether or not there is a point in writing it.
- Let people keep up to date. I don’t expect many friends and family to read this, but if any do they will hopefully find it a useful tool to keep in touch with what’s happening in my life. If this blog is read by friends I have lost touch with, I would love for them to be able to get back in touch and know what’s going on in my little corner of the world.
- Let people get to know me more. According to facebook I have 274 ‘friends’ but most of them are not people I regularly speak to. Most of them are genuine friends who I simply don’t often get a chance to speak to. I hope this blog will enable them to feel they still know me, and will enable friends I do see to gain an extra insight into who I am.
- Share my feelings. Being a stiff-lipped Brit, it’s not easy for me to talk about how I feel. It’s always been easier for me to put my emotions into words when no-one is present. Most of the few deep personal conversations I’ve had have been over email or instant messaging. The only time I am completely open with my feelings is when writing in my diary. I know there are people who care about how I feel, but I can’t talk to them about feelings. I don’t object to people knowing how I feel (obviously, or I wouldn’t be making them public on the internet) but it’s easier for me to share them via a keyboard.
- Share my thoughts about God. As I grow as a Christian I trust God will deepen my understanding of who He is, and enable me to learn more from His word about His Word. As my relationship with Him strengthens, I want to be able to encourage and challenge my brothers and sisters in Christ, and give them a different (though not better) perspective on life, the universe and everything.
So now you know why I’m embarking on this blog. I hope I will keep it up to date, and I have many ideas for blog posts. Why not join me on this journey and see where it takes us?