Shortly after Christmas last year my family changed its router, and suddenly I found myself without access to the internet. When the problem was finally solved, almost a month had gone by. I found myself with a surprising backlog of e-mail to deal with, and quite a lot of content to catch up on (one favorite site had eighty-two pages added since I had last looked, and my loading speed had certainly not improved with the router change).
My enforced abstinence from the internet had the combined effect of a New Year's resolution and giving something up for Lent: it made me realize (or brought to the fore) several insights into my life. One, of course, was how dependent I have become on the internet for my daily routine and even personal contact. E-mail, Facebook, and my erratic blog posts are how I communicate my moods, actions and interests to my small and scattered circle of friends and extended family. My web silence led to one of my brothers calling me to find out if I were depressed.
I missed being able to immediately look up any bit of information (I had a hard time while reading Masters of Atlantis by Charles Portis picturing what a poma--a type of conical hat--actually looked like). I had to watch half an hour of television for my news, weather and even lottery numbers (I know, I'm foolish and weak). Instead of having e-Bay and Amazon to scour for my books, movies, and toys, I had to rely on our limited local resources. I got a few good purchases by catalog, but it took almost three weeks for them to come in.
On the other hand, I spent a lot less of my time just puttering around surfing the web (can you putter and surf at the same time?). I did a few things I had been putting off for a long while, like getting some arranging done in my bloated Image Archives, integrating recent arrivals into their proper place in my library, and having more time certainly didn't hurt my actual New Year's resolution, transcribing my juvenile novel back into a computer file with an eye to possible publication.
This little interlude made me ponder, as well, the role this blog played in my life . It is, in effect, a scrapbook of pictures and quotes that interest me, and a record of my enthusiasms and fugitive thoughts. I had been mulling a final Christmas post or two, a New Year's Eve consideration, a few book reviews, my J. R. R. Tolkien's Birthday notification, a reminder of The Venture Brothers new special (or was it a season premiere?). And now..."returning were as tedious as go o'er." I don't know if I will even do the few things I had contemplated that could still apply; their fire in my mind seems banked, and I must go forward. What I did realize was that probably what I should have now is a Tumblr site, since most of my posts seem to be pictures these days.
But I probably won't change. What I will try now for a while is what I've come to call "Daily Sweepings," which will be posting whatever images I've gathered through the day in a group that will have as a theme only my interest. Today I will be posting in chunks the pictures I've gathered since returning to the internet.
While I have never held any illusions about the importance of my blog, I cannot help but think of my return to it in relation to an old story I heard several years ago. I first heard it told by a preacher, but since found he had adapted it from a poem. Here is the poem:
There Is No Indispensable Man
by Saxon N. White Kessinger, 1959
Sometime when you're feeling important;
Sometime when your ego's in bloom
Sometime when you take it for granted
You're the best qualified in the room,
Sometime when you feel that your going
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions
And see how they humble your soul;
Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that's remaining
Is a measure of how you'll be missed.
You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop and you'll find that in no time
It looks quite the same as before.
The moral of this quaint example
Is do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself but remember,
There's no indispensable man.