Fifteen, or one-third

Fifteen years ago I published the first post here, and fifteen years is one-third of my life, but I’m trying to locate that math in my body and coming up short. Not because it doesn’t feel so long ago—it does—and not because I expected to still be here after all this time—I didn’t. But because the experience of having this place is so ingrained I can no longer find the edges of it. Whether this practice survives another fifteen years or not, I am here and part of me can never leave, not completely.

Fifteen years of any practice is notable. There’s so much out there about habits and “streaks” and how life is just some number of days that are counting down more rapidly than you’d care to admit so you’d better spend it well—as if you could know the full measure of your life and so budget accordingly. But if there’s anything I know about practicing it’s that it isn’t about rules or consistency or scarcity or god forbid optimizing: it’s about coming back. A practice is built on the movement of return.

I’ve been distracted over and over. I’ve been lost and submerged and I’ve drifted away. If you look at the pace of writing over the years, you’ll see many long periods of drought, punctuated by the occasional drenching storm. Which is as good a signal as any about what this place means to me: anytime some space opened up, this is where I turned. I’ve come to see that movement as akin to returning to the breath: when you sit in silence, you lose awareness over and over and over again. What matters isn’t holding on (that’s impossible). What matters is coming home.

And this is a home, in more ways than one. There are books here that have taken up residence in my mind. Or perhaps more accurately, I have lived long residencies within them, have curled up under their eaves and stretched out on the porch, have explored the basements and attics and crawl spaces. I read on paper still, so the evidence of time spent is visible in dog-eared corners and coffee stains, in curling covers and the occasional broken spine. I’m hardest on the books I love the most, so that more than one of them is neighbored by a newer edition: not replaced (because I would never forsake my margin notes) but accompanied by a copy that will decay in its own way, soon enough.

And maybe that’s a good way to think about blogging, too. The new stuff sits next to the old but doesn’t supplant it, doesn’t shove it out of the way. Each new post lays atop the next like sediment, and all the old layers remain exposed for you to meander through, with their mediocre sentences and lapsed claims, all the sloppy thinking ever on display. It’s a great exercise in humility, keeping a blog for this many years. But in exchange for the keen awareness of how far I still have to go as a writer, I have the space to keep going. I have the home to keep coming back to. And I will. I will return, again and again.