I had an epiphany the other day. It was triggered by inexplicable feelings of melancholy and loneliness, made worse when I realised that no one reads these articles. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. I think perhaps two people read each article, on average. But why is it that I’ll get so much more engagement if I post a photo of my children, compared with a carefully thought-out philosophical musing or poem? Why would I have more attention from an image, not even of myself, than from an exposition of my deepest self and thoughts?
Maybe I just have no friends.
But that’s a bit harsh. As my husband pointed out, most people go onto social media to be distracted, not to think; to be entertained, not to engage. It’s much easier to like an image than to wrestle with ideas, especially when the image is of cute kids doing cute things; especially when it doesn’t demand your attention or a change of heart or… well, anything; especially when you’ve had a long day at work and a longer day at home and just need to unwind and switch off.
And here’s me, spending my days off making things and thinking things and writing things. Those words make me think of dying little deaths. An unwinding of a bandage- its job done, time to throw it away. Switching off devices and appliances- no further need for them, they can be put down. No: I refuse. Even on my days of rest, I’m still alive, I’m still a part of this world, I will still engage with whatever is around me.
But come on, let’s face it. Engagement is a weird way to rest. After all, who spends their free time learning how to sew pants, in this age of cheap fashion? Who spends their time in cultural exegesis of parenting behaviour, or reading ancient Chinese historical novels? (I’m a fan of Cao Cao and think Liu Bei is soft. But that’s just me.) Who prefers reading stories over watching them? Who prefers thinking about why life is the way it is in their free time?
The thing is, there’s nothing wrong with any of these things. There’s no moral worth attached to how we rest. (Well, unless you rest by committing adultery or arson. That’s probably a morally wrong way to rest.) It’s just that I haven’t found anyone who enjoys and rests the way I do.
So we are back with this epiphany I have every few years: I’m weird. And no one I know really enjoys all the weird things I enjoy. And no one reads what I write. And that’s ok, because I was always doing all these things because I was interested in them, not because of others. So, let’s keep writing, and reading, and making, and thinking, even if it’s weird and no one else cares. Because things worth doing should be done, regardless of personal cost or external opinion (or lack of).