A Late Start to 2011

Oh, hi, glad to see you’re still here. I apologize for standing you up for most of January. I took somewhat of a blogging hiatus after reaching the 50-post milestone just before the holidays. I assure you I didn’t quit the business to pursue a rap career, grow a beard, and make terse, bizarre appearance of late night talk shows. I’m still here.

You might be thinking, “Jay, no one really noticed or cared that you stopped blogging.” Well, my Mom did, so there.

This evening, I attended a lecture by Van Jones then came home and watched the State of the Union address. It’s sad that it takes pep-talks from two famous, ivy-league educated, world-class motivational speakers to compel me to get back to writing after putting off for weeks. It’s even sadder that I consider writing in my spare time a challenge.

I’ve been thinking a little bit about why I stopped posting, and I noticed that first two explanations parallel the reasons most of us have given up our New Year’s Resolutions by now:

1. Work gets in the way.
My work days are hectic, and last thing I feel like doing when I get home is hopping back in front my computer. To make matters worse, I now have identical computers, Macbook Amateurs (as opposed to Pros. Zing!), at work and at home. Furthermore, a fair amount of my work revolves around maintaining a social media presence for my organization. As a result, blogging platforms, online magazines, facebook, twitter, google maps, and flickr are all starting to feel like work.  I’m not sure how that’s possible, and I’m aware that there are much less interesting things to be subjected to at work, but I can’t help but feel like once an object or idea moves from the work world to the non-work world, there’s no reconciling them. In George Costanza’s words, “worlds are colliding, Jerry, WORLD ARE COLLIDING!”  At my previous job I got to wear jeans every day. It was great for about a year, until one weekend I realized putting on my jeans made me feel like I was going to work? What else was left in my wardrobe?! I’d have to go to social functions in sweat pants.

2. It wasn’t new anymore
This is usually why most blogs last under 10 posts…any why the gym is usually pretty empty by Friday, even in January. We lose steam when the novelty wears off. Van Jones spent some time discussing the cycle of hope and despair that we all tend to fall in, whether as activists, as employees, athletes or as human beings in general. My generation is especially guilty of making bold declarations of intention, and promptly failing to follow through. We never plan it out that way. It’s not as if we get together and say, “let’s make a resolution to talk a lot about volunteering at a local non-profit, then totally not follow through!” We’re just have incredibly short attentions spans. After all, there are so many facebook pages to “like” out there, and so little time.  As Jones said, we’ve found out in recent years that hope is far easier to attain than change. Real change requires diligence. I’m starting to sound like an inane motivational office poster now, so I’ll stop.

3.  The Pacific Northwest is starting to feel like home
Not that Bound for Portland has ever been limited to narratives about new adventures in Portland. But the fact that Kim and I have started settling in to Portland makes for seemingly less compelling story lines. We’re stilling exploring new hiking trails, new foods, beers and other Portlandish endeavors, but I no longer feel like I’m sharing wild and zany adventures.

On the other hand, that’s the way most of life works. In exchange for a sense of family and community, most of us accept that not every day, or week or month will provide an entirely new change of setting.  The trick is to find a moving stories and grand adventures in the corners, side streets and faces of every day.

During my blogging hiatus, I went up to Vancouver, Canada to spend Christmas with my parents (in from the East Coast), my brother, and his wonderful family. for me, this was the first Christmas where my brother rotated into the role of father, and my father and mother embraced the role of grandpa and nana. On Christmas eve, my four-year-old nephew Lucas and I were sitting on the floor, cross-legged, playing with x-men action figures. I asked him if he knew the meaning of Christmas. He smiled at me, clashed Gambit and Magneto together a few more times, then crawled over to me and cupped his hands to my ear.  “To celebrate God,” he whispered.

Maybe a travel blogger (if that’s even what I am) shouldn’t admit this, but I knew in that moment that I could travel the world for decades and never have life explained so purely and succinctly.

Here are a few shots from my time up on Vancouver, including a snowshoeing excursion on Mt. Seymour.

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