Why I Stopped Blogging

About three months ago I was driving home from somewhere up North. It was late in the afternoon on an overcast Spring day. I drove up one of the little curving switchback hills over which State Highway 1 winds North from Dunedin and saw the dark clouds part and a single crepuscular ray of light pick out a distant hill. Under a billowed flannel grey sky the earth was the bright light  green of newness and growth. I stopped the car and got out my camera. The ray of light glowed straight edged and several sided; perfect. I knew it would disappear as the gap in the clouds above it closed, so I had maybe a minute to get the shot. Crepuscular rays, "God beams", are hard to capture. I extended the zoom all the way out, set the aperture as wide as it would go - at that distance there weren't going to be any depth of field problems and I wanted as fast a shutter speed as possible to obviate camera shake in the fading light. Of course I could have just knocked the ISO up a couple of notches, but I wanted this to be as noise free and smooth as I could get it. The clouds were dark and the beam very bright, and I wanted detail in both. I also wanted to capture that electrically bright green. I could try an HDR shot, or just make an averaged exposure and then use layers in Photoshop to get the results I wanted.

I looked across the miles of farmland between me and my latest picture. It was all so very beautiful; so alive, so mobile so transient so still and so old, all at the same time. And I put my camera down. What was I doing lessening my view of this loveliness by looking at it through a viewfinder? Why on earth did I want to capture this? The world moved on. The bright window in the cloud closed over and the beam disappeared. The grey sky darkened and in a watery teal blue patch of sky directly above me one of the planets, Mercury? stared pale eyed down as a further, deeper rent in the early evening sky. It was not as gaudy as what had just passed but it was every bit as beautiful. The universe would not miss yet another photograph sitting on my hard drive, and for a moment I was privileged to see this without the obstructing rush and bother involved in trying to grab hold of it.

I drove home thinking about why I had the need to try and capture little slices of the flux in which I - in which we all - dwell. I thought about the way a camera attempts to freeze time, and about how this is a futile, pointless exercise. How photography can be a crass little 'Kilroy was here' graffiti scrawled on the ever changing beauty of the Universe. I began taking photographs as a way of helping me see the world. But now more often than not the camera stood between me and the world. Once it had invited me into what was there; now it shut me out.

I got home and put my camera bag into the cupboard in my study and left it there. And I thought about blogging, which to me is a kind of verbal equivalent of photography.

I began this blog as a record of the study leave I took in 2008. Soon after I began blogging I became ill, so I recorded and worked through, on here, many of the issues surrounding my cancer. Then I used it to record and share my experiences on the Camino Santiago. And in all this, I reflected on Life The Universe and Everything, and enjoyed some great conversations with those who took the trouble to read and respond to what I wrote. It was all very helpful for me, like a kind of public diary and an invitation into relationship. Then I became Bishop, and suddenly I had to be a lot more careful about what I said. And suddenly my days were so absurdly busy that blogging became just one more chore, and one which was subject to the same disquieting question as the photographs: why? Why capture snippets of my thought processes and experiences? Why take these small tissue samples from the living, ever changing body of my daily life and lay them out where everyone can see them?

I could find no satisfactory answer to that question, so I simply stopped. Technology has moved on. My phone is a powerful computer with a large bright screen and a superb camera. The information once shared on here moved, by way of  groups on Google+ or WhatsApp, into a more private sphere. The sorts of conversation which I once had in the comments section of posts continued, and with much the same people, via email and text.

But here I am again. So why start again? The main answer is because so many people asked me to. I've noticed that, even though I haven't been posting, a steady 200-300 people a day are opening pages on here. I have thought a lot about communication and the odd, constantly evolving blur between public and private which technology plunges us into. Perhaps between the poles of the persona managing pseudo-communication of Facebook and the private sharing of moments on Whatsapp, and the life giving email conversations with friends, there is still a role for Available Light.

This weekend I am in my Caravan in Cromwell. I have a free evening.  I plugged my long disused camera  into the computer and found 208 photos, such as the one above,  which I had forgotten I had ever taken. So here we go again. I know a few of you want to listen, so I guess I'm prepared to speak.

Comments

Elaine Dent said…
Kelvin, I absolutely resonate with those good reasons to stop blogging! I'll add another one: the hubris of seeing how many people read the last post. Your description of putting the camera down to see again is beautiful and reminds of Malcolm Guites's recent poem,"And Is It Not Enough?" asking why write yet another poem about a river in autumn when others have done it better. In spite of the hubris reasons that sneak into blogging, I continue (after thoughtfully reading this post) because, in the difficult process of taking time to write, I learn more deeply what God has been up to, I can give testimony to that with others with whom I may not otherwise have had a conversation, and finally I very occasionally become aware that God's Spirit has used those words to help another. Your posts have done that for me. This one has. Welcome back. Grateful.
Thank you! I understand completely and have actually had a similar experience with my own writing. Having stopped some of it for awhile I've just begun again but less frequently - must be something in the ether. I have lately realized the loveliness of just sitting briefly to merely listen to birds or to recognize the sudden quiet in a fleeting moment when my tiny corner of the world seems to have a nanosecond of rest. Having accidentally deleted a couple of photos from my phone, I will rest with more ease than disappointment - the moment captured is still in my mind's eye and my heart. Blessings to you from the other side of the world - east coast USA.
Kate said…
I could be Christina, except living here in Tauranga, New Zealand. I also stopped blogging, and resumed, because I disliked but also missed a 'forced' opportunity for reflection that came with my writing, and disliked and also missed the paring-down of the surplus words to find a literary (and sometimes real) kernal of understanding.
Ain't life interesting?
Welcome back Kelvin.
Elmer E. Ewing said…
I am also grateful for the return of your wise words and artful photos. I have missed you and them.
Alden Smith said…
Robert Johnson the world - renowned Jungian analyst, writing about an experience before the invention of the Internet where he used to exchange tapes by mail with friend wrote, "My friend lives far away and we meet infrequently. At one rare meeting my friend said, - "Robert, why is it that you are so much more intelligent on tape than in conversation? Don't answer; I know. On the tape I don't interrupt!" - Talking to him by tape had engaged my feeling function and given me the freedom to process my own thoughts. You can give another person a precious gift if you will allow him to talk without contaminating his speech with your own material." Now, I feel strongly that this is the attraction of writing for many people - It's a kind of 'Journaling' ones own little life journey. I do this when writing my own blog, I don't know or particularly care whether or not anyone thinks my Blogspeak is any more intelligent than my interpersonal conversation but I find that writing without interruption DOES have the effect of focussing, organising and expressing myself in a way that is not really available in any other way. I think that the answer to "To Blog or not to Blog? that is the question" is not an Either/Or answer. The answer is the integration into life of a couple of opposites - There is time enough for DOING and BEING. Finding this balance resolves what seems a paradox - In fact the Doing of writing is expressing the thoughts of our Being. Apart from any other consideration, I find writing my Blog is fun - and fun is good!
Alden Smith said…
....... So welcome back to the BlogSphere Kelin, you thoughts are always erudite and interesting and your photography is superb.
Merv said…
+Kelvin, you have been & are in my every morning prayer. Thank you for allowing your gifts to be a blessing to us.
Merv.
Peter Carrell said…
Your post bears an uncanny resemblance to a lecture I heard last week from the world's greatest living philosopher! http://anglicandownunder.blogspot.co.nz/2014/12/alain-badiou-and-available-light-la.html
Wendy Scott said…
Kelvin your writing often prompts me to thinking deeply about my own experiences and for that i am grateful. As I travel around Bangladesh it's nice to have the voices of friends speak if somewhat vicariously into my days. I too wonder about the photos that I take and I think am I missing something behind the camera. But in retrospect my memory cannot retain all of the moments and the photo is simply the prompt in the future to remind me of the joy, sadness , the experience of the moment long gone. Loved the piece on rural. You manage to put into words what we all know to be true that's why your blog is appreciated. Wendy Scott
liturgy said…
I have appreciation for the vocation to hermit, as I'm sure you do too, Kelvin. And I have hermit moments and hermit dimensions to my life. I understand the Quaker liturgy of silence.

But alongside these, in real life, we speak, and share, and some even preach and pray aloud.

My concern, in this new land of cyberspace where so many, especially the youth, now live, is not that we will say too much, but that the spiritual and gospel presence are missing or thin, or dominated by twisted, unhealthy versions.

To not be present healthily in cyberspace is like not being present healthily in Africa or Europe or Asia or New Zealand.

One way to celebrate 200 years of the gospel in this land is to encourage people to bring bring glad tidings of great joy to this young land of cyberspace.

Advent Blessings

Bosco
www.liturgy.co.nz
Michelle Lawand said…
Thank you Kelvin for resuming - like many others I am grateful for your words and photos - they make me pause to consider the good and bad in my life. I also agree with the comment that so many young people live in cyberspace - we need words such as yours in their sphere to hopefully engage them. Michelle