Most people seem to take this blogging thing very seriously. They chase likes, call themselves influencers and keep their blogs full of fresh and relevant (and often sponsored) material. I’m afraid I’m not that kind of blogger. If anything I’m a storyteller and a memorykeeper. I harvest words, pictures and memories and make little notes about things I intend to turn into blog posts, videos or other creative things. But when it comes to editing and uploading them I often get stuck. Partly because of my illness and partly because of a severe stage fright that has been my constant companion for well over 40 years.
I was born into a body that does very little without arguments. My immune system is literally trying to obliterate me, cell by cell, and is happily chewing away as much joint lining and soft tissue as possible each day. I live with chronic pain and fatigue, and I have a number of malfunctioning body parts. As soon as I do any kind of strenuous activity, like getting dressed or brushing my hair, I get exhausted, catch a fever and need to rest. On top of that, some built-in system regularly bypasses my free will to switch me off and give my body a rest. Apparently, my ideal sleep ratio these days is the same as a newborn baby’s. I nap all through the day and get precious little done.
As if none of the above was vexation enough, I have always suffered from a nigh on suffocating performance anxiety and have seriously believed everything I write (or do) sucks. Which is a huge problem when you love all sorts of creative expression. A proper stage monkey at heart, I love performing, exhibiting and showcasing; but the thought of anyone misunderstanding, or misinterpreting, the fruits of my labour stifles me. And so I’ve spent far too long sitting on complete texts, videos or photos unable to hit that publish button.
Lately, however, the times have been a-changing, to paraphrase a true wordsmith*. When everything is taken away from you, you are forced to balance the books of your life. To truly examine the core of who you are, and what makes you tick. For me, it has always been Solicitude and Storytelling. Without these two I am nought, and so I knew I had to explore new ways of keeping my body and soul together. Thus, I embarked on what can only be described as a new adventure.
I knew that, in order to advance, I had to conquer my irrational fear of public humiliation and start taking my storytelling seriously. Writing, however, doesn’t come as easily to me anymore as it once did, so in a bid to circumvent this obstacle I tried each day to film myself talking about something. (This is not an easy feat for someone who gets hypertensious (good word!) and inarticulate at the sight of a camera!) Slowly, my fear subsided and I learned how to make basic videos. Then I decided to challenge myself further by uploading my efforts on YouTube as a record of my progression. The feedback, kindness and support I received from complete strangers on a platform known for its harsh and unforgiving audience was as heart-warming as it was encouraging, and I soon realised what a terrific storytelling tool the camera could be even outside the realm of cinematography.
Around the same time as I shot my first video, I began the herculean task of collating all my written material and publishing it on a domain I own and control. Not because it has any particular value as far as literary achievements go, but because my words matter to me and I feel a need to take control of the legacy I leave behind.
I want my little Frog Prince, and any future grandkids, to know who I was and what I believed in. I want them to be able to read and hear and see the stories of my life as I saw them and decide for themselves what and who I was. We live in a time where we have a unique opportunity to pass on messages to those who come after us, rather than having to rely on the scattered memories and biased opinions of others. Whether we are literate, or tech savvy, or even particularly creative makes no difference anymore; and even poverty is no longer a (complete) bar to access to the technology that makes it possible for people in the so called privileged part of the world to keep a record of their lives. We’ve sure come a long way since Caxton, Niépce or Lumière*.
On this blog, under my own name, I am slowly putting some kind of record of my life and thoughts together. Come pull up a chair by my bedside, pop the kettle on, and let me tell you a story or two.
Much love, always,
*Bob Dylan wrote The Times They Are a-Changin’