The Rebel Heart

I could never be one of those bloggers who has to react in real-time to current events, because it always takes me a while to think before I come up with something semi-original to say. But since this is my own blog, I can be as out of date as I like. So here are my thoughts on last week’s story of the day:


I was pretty much transfixed by the story of the couple who took their 1 year old and 3 year old and decided to sail across the Pacific Ocean with them. About six hundred miles offshore, they ran into trouble: the baby got sick and the ship started taking on water. Eventually the Dad radioed for help and the US Navy went out and rescued them.


I think part of why this fascinated me was because, in a weird way, I can see myself doing – well, not this but something like this. Or I could have, if I hadn’t married someone so grounded. Let’s face it, I didn’t always consider all the possible ramifications before I leapt into adventure when I was younger. And more than most people I know, I did without a lot of the ‘necessities’ when my kids were young – I never had a changing table, or a crib, or all kinds of things that people thought were absolutely essential. I remember my sister-in-law telling me that my non-existent nursery was in stark contrast to most of the other people she knew.


But the other thing that drew me in and that, I think, drew in a lot of people, was their blogs. Well, really, the Mom’s blog. It goes back seven years, to just before she moved in on the boat with her husband. And it includes a very detailed and very personal account of her difficult days on this trip, explaining exactly what her qualifications – and lack of them – are for making such a long voyage.


Debate raged on a number of different sites. People are very judgemental – I try not to be, but I am too – it seems to be human nature. How could they take such a long voyage? She only did it to please her husband. She didn’t really like sailing anyway. She’s a terrible person – look at that post where she hid the cake from her hungry child and ate it all herself. Then of course the contrarians hit back: You’re only saying all that because you don’t have the courage to do it. Why shouldn’t they live out their dreams? They were prepared, they had all the right medications, etc. They too used evidence from her blog.


And I was thinking about how yes, people would have judged them anyway, but the blog gave evidence to do so. I have this love-hate relationship with personal blogs I guess – just the other day I found myself drawn into the blog of a complete stranger that detailed her marriage falling apart. And I admire people’s willingness to put all their personal thoughts and feelings out there for anyone to see, to make themselves vulnerable, maybe partly so other people can get some insight from them. (I admire that in the people who submit personal essays to our magazine too.) At the same time, I’m a bit scornful of it. I know that seems ridiculous: how can I admire it and scorn it at the same time? But I guess the thing is, while it’s brave, it’s also a bit naïve. Because really do you want your life to be used as evidence for someone else to make their personal/political/social points?


Does writing a personal blog stem from the same impulse that encourages people to try out for reality TV shows? Is it ‘look at me, look at me’? Or is it more, here’s a forum where I can try to work things out, document my life and maybe get input from others?


So writing a short, insightful post on a topic in the news is a LOT harder than I thought. Maybe that’s the reason I’m not one of those people who has a job blogging on current events.


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