Alternate title: There’s more to this blogging thing than my corny jokes. Really, there is.
Last Thursday, I attended TECHmunchNYC with fellow blogger Maggy Anderson of ThreeManyCooks. I have to mention her because if not for her prompting, my dorky intimidated-by-strangers self likely wouldn’t have gone. And I’m so glad I did. It was a day packed with panels that had me scribbling down notes, trying to get as much as I could from the day-long event.
I was also trying not to think about the cupcakes in the snack room.
There was so much information to digest, from SEO tips to food trends to building relationships with traditional media and other brands. There was also a 5-minute segment by Cathy Brooks on “Storytelling: Connecting the Who with the What,” and at the end, one person asked a question that made me sit up even more attentively, awaiting the answer.
The question asked was this: If you have varied interests and many different passions, how do you blog about them without giving the perception that you’re all over the place? Cathy’s answer: Make a list. Write down all your interests and passions, and the reason each one is listed. She said that, often, a theme becomes immediately apparent, and it is that theme that will help you find your focus and be able to write about your different passions in a consistent voice.
On the ride home, I thought about my list, and my reasons. I thought about my interest in food. Photography. Travel. Writing. Music. And wouldn’t you know it, an underlying theme emerged: they’ve been my passions from a very young age. None of them are new interests, nothing I picked up later in life. These are all childhood passions that I put on hold as I got older and went about the business of becoming a “responsible adult” and pursuing education (medicine first, because I had no interest in business, computers, or technology) and a career in more traditional fields. Creative passions that I thought I had tamed and put to rest.
But dormancy and extinction are not the same. They may appear to be identical, and to someone thousands of miles away, the difference may not matter. But to the one who lives in the village at the foot of the volcano, the rumblings matter. Oh, do they matter. And only a fool would go about her business as if nothing happened, as if the mountain wasn’t starting to wake up.
Blogging turned out to be my mountain’s alarm clock. As I read some of my oldest posts, I can see just when the realization started sinking in. In 2006, after three weeks in the Philippines to end a 13-year-long absence, I sensed the re-awakening, but apparently chose to hit the snooze button. Many months later, I wrote a post about writing, still battling feelings of inadequacy and misplaced guilt (because writing somehow felt like a selfish pursuit, purely for my own enjoyment).
Now I think I’ve finally worn down that snooze button. I feel like the past year has been the world’s longest wakeup. I’ve started writing more. Photographing more. Cooking more. I’ve even begun writing music again. For me, it’s an important first step to recognize that this is what’s right for me, and allow myself to continue. I feel like a child again, simply because these are the same things I loved as a child. Yet it is this conscious choice to shake the dust off my childhood dreams that actually makes me quite the grown up. And I am laughing at the irony of it all, how I entered college as a pre-med student, convinced I wanted nothing to do with business or computers or technology. Now, all these years later, because of my computer, I’m finally doing all the things I’ve dreamed of but never gave myself permission to do.
And I finally made sense of it all at a technology conference. Go figure.
Wait. Maybe self-contradiction is an underlying theme of mine, too.
“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” (Joseph Campbell)