Monday, June 11, 2007
I Never Meta Blogger...
Just for the record, as I'm about ready once again to take up the gauntlet, let me describe the thought process, as I understand it, that led me temporarily up to dry:
I was raised among political junkies, and have always been one. My dad was on the Portland school board for three terms, was on the Oregon Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and headed a quite important commission to address race and education during the sixties, another to revise the Oregon constitution. In retirement, he was mayor of Cannon Beach. My aunt was on the Portland City Council, the planning commission, and the port commission. My brother was a US Senate page, rubs shoulders now with a number of politicos. Table-talk was always about Big Issues when I was growing up. Governors, Senators, Congressmen and Congresswomen came to dinner (and, I assure you, it decidedly wasn't about money!) (Phone call when I was a kid: "Is Herb there?" "Who shall I say is calling?" "It's the Gov!") So "junkie" is perhaps too pejorative: it's important to me. Which of course means that the current state of affairs in the US and the world at best drives me crazy, and at worst depresses me to the point of immobility. Maybe the recent round of presidential "debates" was the last straw. Between the people who would be president, and the journalists who would cover them, I really don't see how anyone can but think we're well and truly doomed. "Raise your hand if you...." demands Wolf Blitzer. The only thing more pathetic than a "journalist" who thinks asking ANY question of that sort in that format, is the fact that none of the people called him on it. And that is, of course, the very least of it. So few candidates (I'm certain the root word is not "candid") are afraid to speak the truth; so many are unabashed at pandering. AND IT WORKS!!!
It's not that I'm out of surgeon-blogging ideas. I've started typing a few. But of late there's a why bother? reflex. Can I ignore the things I think are cataclysmically important, and write instead about adhesions? And then, to some extent anyway, I figured it out.
First of all, getting 1200 page views a day is a cosmically, monumentally, minuscule slice of the populace. More than that, any political rants of mine will (I know this because I spend lots of time reading and occasionally commenting on political blogs) NOT change a single mind or alter the trajectory on which we find ourselves, despite the fact that there are some things I consider so obvious that it baffles, befuddles, and be-depresses me that anyone could disagree. Some that are so important I can't imagine why people aren't out in the streets with pitchforks and torches; or at least -- like me -- constantly frothing at the mouth.
On the other hand, small as my readership may be, I have heard from people. I've heard from some who've been sick, or family of the sick; they've told me that something I wrote helped them to understand, calmed a fear, gave them hope. I've heard from high school and college students, from med students that said they read something here which inspired them to consider medicine, or surgery (or not to, which, I suppose, is equally as useful). And I've heard from people who got a good laugh; what can be better than that? So I concluded: whereas spouting off on politics might be cathartic, it won't do a damn thing except change the whole point of this blog and piss off and/or turn away a bunch of readers -- many of whom are from all over the world. To hold my tongue in this venue is not to abdicate my political beliefs; I have other avenues. Nevertheless, as deeply as I feel about our current political world -- as angry and frustrated as I am about where we seem to be headed and as pessimistic as I am about prospects for recovery, it's damn hard to think about anything else....
There's a certain self-absorption in all blogging, it seems to me. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about why I do it. But it's interesting that while I stopped doing anything but posting a couple of rebuses (rebi?; reberi?; rebusim?), page views continued approximately apace. Lots of people end up here because they've searched a topic; the blog pops up in the top ten -- sometimes numero uno -- of a million hits on some google searches for a few fairly common surgical topics. It's not outlandish, in other words, to think that microscopic as it may be, there's a purpose here; there's usefulness. Were I blogging in the political sphere, that would absolutely, unarguably be untrue. I have at least some claim to credibility medically, and none politically. Alas.
So I think I'm again ready. And whereas I'm certain no one was out there nubbing their fingertips awaiting it, I've allowed myself this small indulgence of an explanation before climbing back on. The world is driving me nuts. But, not unlike picking up a knife and laying it to human flesh, I can shut everything else out when I have to.
P.S: It delights me when I get suggestions for future posts.
P.P.S: OK. I can't resist this one political comment: couple of days ago (well after writing the above), I heard an interview with Rufus Wainwright. Asked about his often politically-charged music, he commented in a way I'd not heard it put: people are in mourning; he wants to help them grieve. That struck a chord. Speaking out in these times is not about hating any leaders, nor is it -- contrary to some of the more popular sloganeering -- about misunderstanding the conflict we're in. It's about grieving loss. Of respect, of the rule of law, of the moral high ground. Of reason, of discourse. Of people who disagree with one another being able to seek common ground for the common good. It's about remembering a time when a plurality of people didn't argue that only those with certain religious beliefs had a claim on rectitude; and that having those beliefs absolved one of the need to face facts. You don't grieve from hate. It comes from love lost. That's something, I'd like to think, on which most people could agree.
And with that, I pledge to return to first principles: this is a surgery blog, and so it will remain.