It does make me wonder how Thoreau got along without an Internet connection. Hanging around for months at a time next to that pond, how do you suppose he was able to pass the time without checking in on how his readers were reacting to his ramblings? Who was his audience? Trees, rocks, and the occasional rabid squirrel?
That's the thought I had the other day as I stared at the message on my monitor telling me that my blog was unavailable. My frustration lasted for a few minutes, as I tried to find some clever way to work around the cyber-roadblock the powers-that-be had set in front of me. I began to consider my options. The first, and most obvious one was that I could simply let it go for a day. I was sure that the world would continue to creep along without my immediate comment on its progress. Sure, I had strung together a Cal Ripken-like string of six uninterrupted years of idle comparisons, reflections and introspection, but would anyone notice if a tree fell in my virtual Walden?
Perhaps if it fell directly on top of me, or if I could find some topic that might incite the Internet trolls to come out and argue with me. But mostly I felt a twinge of loneliness. I feared severing that connection with the outside world. There was a time when I filled legal pads with my handwritten scribblings, very few of which ever saw the light of day. I kept my musings to myself and crafted what I believed was a writer's persona: brooding and intense. That lasted a few years, but it conflicted mightily with my need for attention. Turns out I was more of a comedian than a writer. All of that solitude wore on me.
And so when I read the sign that told me that Blogger was down, I was too. I tried to live past the despair of never communicating with the outside world again. Then I realized that I could always open a word processor or even pull out my old Bic pen and start carving away. I thought about walking outside and taking in the beauty of my surroundings. Instead I looked at the bulletin board outside my room and noticed that it hadn't had new paper for more than a year. The traffic in the hallway had torn the background and the border to the point that it hung in tatters. I took those moments that might have been ranting about Newt Gingrich or complaining about my weekend to replace the paper with a nice smooth sheet of fadeless sky blue. It was an energizing experience. This was my pond, my reflection. Once the stapler was put away, I took a chance that Al Gore and his team had straightened out the issues with my on-line journal. I was relieved to find that they had. So I sat down and wrote this blog. And then I thought of this: "A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone." I guess I'm going to have to work on that.