According to the results of an internet search, the number of blogs in the world is somewhere between 1.4 bazillion and 2.2 gagillion. That's right. Nobody really knows how many blogs exist. One infographic placed the number at 152 million in 2013. Another site has a cool counter, merrily counting away the number of blog entries made per second.
So why one more? The answer lies partly in a crushed beer can and partly in a Southern gentleman professor.
I have very few childhood memories, but I can’t remember a time when I was not fascinated with cameras. I was snapping pictures, developing film, and printing photos by the time I was 12. I have a vivid memory of the first “abstract” picture I ever took.
Until that day my pictures were exclusively of people or scenery--snapshots. For some reason, I photographed a crushed beer can in a mud puddle. That was 1967. I was 14 and I was hooked. Photos could inspire a story, could spark the imagination.
Fast forward to 1980. I was in grad school, working on a masters in English at the University of North Carolina. I was taking a course from a true relic of the Old South, right out of Gone With the Wind. In discussing a minor poet, he mentioned the words “commonplace book.” I looked it up. I was hooked again. I would keep such a book.
I'm not a very disciplined or industrious person. In 64 years, I can only count two things that I've done consistently: take pictures (for more than 50 years) and keep a commonplace book (more than 35 years).
In the years of doing these two things, I've never stopped to ask, "What was I thinking?" What was I thinking when I released the shutter? Why did I stop what I was doing and take the time to preserve a bit of wisdom, a quotation, a cartoon, a random thought? What might the answers to these questions tell me about myself, about others, about the world?
I’m seeking travelling companions, much like Robert Frost did in inviting his readers to join him and experience the first American publication of his poetry, North of Boston, with a simple but profound little poem, "The Pasture," part of which reads--
I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.
Unlike Tom Sawyer, Frost was not trying to dupe someone into doing his work for him. There’s a certain amount of loafing involved in the unnecessary task of watching water clear. Better to loaf with a friend than be just lazy alone. He extends the invitation for the sheer pleasure of friendship, fellowship, and perhaps mutual benefit.
It’s as if he’s saying, “No heavy lifting, but surely we’ll benefit from our time together. Who knows what we might discover?”
That’s my invitation to anyone who might follow, comment, and add immensely to what otherwise would be a lonely and self-centered journey.
Most importantly, I 'd really enjoy your company. You come too!
50 years of photographs and 35 years of keeping a commonplace book.