“I've started watching out for older people so much more since reading this blog. I find time to talk to older people now, look out for them on the streets, slow down my own steps when crossing with someone who is elderly to make sure they get across all right, usually without trying to be too obvious about it…
“But it's not just elderly people - I started that way, and now am just more observant of everyone. I make sure kids don't run away from their parents and climb onto escalators, sometimes get their attention and let them know their parents are looking for them in the grocery store, notice when the clerk is tired or having a bad day and take a minute to try and cheer them up a bit…”
Wow. What a compliment it is to know you’ve made a positive difference of this magnitude. From times when strangers have unexpectedly helped me out - maybe just a taxi driver hefting a heavy bag in and out of the trunk - I know these are not small things.
I too take more notice since I’ve been writing Time Goes By. For me, there is something about saying things “out loud” that makes me more aware of thoughts and ideas that would otherwise fade away without my taking action. And although I can’t bring a specific instance to mind right now, I know I have done things because of what other bloggers have written.
I wonder how much this happens around the blogosphere. It seems to be little mentioned.
Donna’s comment, coupled with time constraints now as my preparations for moving to Maine gain urgency, remind me of the conversational quality that is the essence of blogging. Without comments, bloggers would have no way to know if they aren’t just pissing into the wind or if their words matter to anyone.
I didn't know this when I began Time Goes By, but it would be a poor, little wisp of thing without reader participation. My idea for the blog was that writing about getting older would force me to think critically - more pointedly and with more focus to help me investigate and understand better what getting older is like. Doing it publicly would keep me on target and keep me honest. I thought maybe a couple of other people might be interested, but I had no idea how reader comments would enrich the blog itself - which is no longer so much a representation of me as it is a separate entity with a life of its own.
We each own our blogs - or so I thought. The owner is in charge, sets the topic(s) each day and commenters follow that lead. Here at TGB, I drop in to watch the conversation, the dialogue and the debate as it develops across 24 hours and unlike some bloggers, I don’t join in much unless there is a question that needs clearing up. On a (very) few occasions over two years, I saw the conversation tilting toward quarrelsomeness, but before I could post a comment that might help keep the dialogue more civil, a reader jumped in and did it for me.
Still, it's my blog, right? Another day, another topic, another comment section conversation. This week, I am beginning to think otherwise.
Because the long list of tasks and chores to accomplish my move to Maine is reaching critical mass, I have almost no time to surf the web or blogs, to read or to do the research into aging that I usually do each day. So to continue the blog during my transition, I’ve begun reading comments more closely, picking up interesting ideas and then commenting - but as a new blog post.
This takes far less time than plowing through the notes, books, magazines, printouts and blog journal ideas I keep for future blog entries. It’s much faster to write from my head than from facts and so for the nonce, I am relying on all you smart readers who leave such thoughtful comments and what those comments spark in me.
Blogging tends to be a here today, gone tomorrow medium that eats fresh content for lunch. But following up on new ideas from comments, sometimes, may be a way of extending the dialogue from one day to the next, of delving deeper into some topics and ideas that deserve more time and attention, of treating the blog, day to day, as more of an extended conversation - an online version, if you will, of those warm, wonderful evenings that stretch into the wee hours among friends who have much to ponder together.
And in that way, maybe we don’t own our blogs quite as much as we believe we do. By taking up a thought provoked by a reader comment, rather than posting standalone stories every day, readers come to have an ownership stake in one another’s blogs.
It's just an idea I'm tinkering with as I pack these many cartons and try to keep my blood pressure under control dealing with customer service representatives.
[HOUSEKEEPING NOTE: A few days ago, I made a change in the TGB style sheet so that story links display in bold. I had been having trouble seeing them lately, especially when they are in their green state of being. Let me know is this is helpful to you.]