in which I had a dream

I’m someone who often has really bizarre dreams – the sort of dreams I wake up from and think “what the heck just happened in that dream?”

Some dreams are quite stressful, and I’ll wake feeling like I haven’t actually rested at all, but I can’t, for the life of me, remember what it was that made the dream so stressful. Continue reading

audience participation

A couple of months or so ago, I noticed that I was getting increasingly obsessed with my blog stats – the number of views, comments and likes – day by day, and month to month.

Of course, it’s natural to care about this stuff, right? That’s what I told myself. But then I thought about why I’m blogging in the first place: I told myself that it wasn’t about trying to get famous or well-known – it was not about who did or did not read what I wrote. What was important was that I had this medium for writing, and for writing whatever the heck I wanted.

But the truth of the matter is that it’s not about me. If all that mattered was having this creative outlet, then I could just have a private blog. Here’s a revelation: I could write without a blog at all.

All throughout high school, in English, History, Economics, Media, etc – in all these subjects I studied, I was told (either by the teacher or, eventually, by myself) to always consider the intended audience of a text as I wrote it. I feel like this is something that has been so ingrained in me, that it’s now fundamental to everything I write.

I heard somewhere, some time ago, that those who read fiction are better at empathising with others. I can’t remember if this was backed up by any substantial evidence, but I think there is truth to it. It’s all something to do with being able to use your imagination to put yourself in another person’s position (even if they are a fictional person), and understand their thoughts and emotions. Perhaps this is another reason why people who read are good at writing – because they can perceive the audience’s reaction, and can thus manipulate their text to manipulate the audience.

Anyway, I digress. (Side note: I got a feeling of deja vu when writing the above paragraph about reading and empathising. Apologies if I’ve mentioned it in a previous post.)

While I noticed that I seemed to care a lot more about my blog stats than I did when I first started out on WordPress, I also noticed that I was thinking a lot more of my audience. I can’t even say this with certainty, but I’m quite sure that I used to just write whatever I wanted without a thought to who would read it; but now I have an idea of who my regular(-ish) readers are, and I care about writing posts that these readers would enjoy. (Yes, I’m talking about you.)

And, you know what, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this change in the way I blog.

The truth is, regardless of whether I have 2 readers or 2000 readers, I would still continue to write and publish posts on this blog. But I value my readers. In its own way, it’s encouraging and validating to know that there are people out there – perfect strangers, even – who would read what I’m writing – and some who even like or comment on my posts. It’s human nature to seek the approval of others, right?

These days, however, I avoid looking at the stats page. Correction: I resist looking at my blog stats as much as possible until curiosity gets the better of me. Does it help? Maybe.

In his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (one day I might stop referring to and mentioning this book, but I’m afraid that’s probably not going to be any time soon), Murakami also writes about his experiences owning and running a bar in Japan. What I found rather humbling was his “one-in-ten repeaters” philosophy. It revolves around the fact that you just can’t please everyone:

“If one out of ten was a repeat customer, then the business would survive … it didn’t matter if nine out of ten didn’t like my bar.” (p.38)

He applied this mentality to his writing as well, saying that having a number of devoted readers (the one-in-ten repeaters) made him happier than having a huge number of readers. He was not concerned about writing top-selling epics or being “literature’s top runner”. He just wrote what he wanted, how he wanted.

Although I suspect that my fraction is a bit smaller, maybe it is true that the “one-in-ten” is all I really need. And maybe I just need to keep writing what I want because I suppose that’s how I developed my readership in the first place. After all, I’m sure this blog wouldn’t be sustainable for me if I didn’t write whatever the heck I felt like writing.

take me home

Just wanted to post this quickly to share this song: Take Me Home by Jess Glynne

I did mention Jess Glynne in a post a while back, and I’m still loving her music now, so I thought it was worth another post (albeit a short one – a very short one by my standards). Here is an excerpt from the video info explaining how the song came about:

This song was written to you. Not to the person who broke me in so many ways but the person who helped save me from drowning in something that wasn’t worth drowning in.

I’m filing this post under “reblogged” as well as “music” because I reckon that blogging is mostly about sharing stories (often personal ones), and, really, this is just a blog-type story in a different format.

Also, just quickly (because it’s not like it’s that big of a deal or whatever), my last post was my 500th post on this blog. I knew I was approaching 500, but had stopped keeping track a long time ago. In a sense, I reckon it was better to have written my 500th post without knowing that it would be the 500th one (less pressure and all that). How fitting for me, though, that the post is about thinking (and running).

what I think about when I run

At the end of last year, coming into the start of this year, I read Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running; and I’ve left the book sitting by my computer since then, both for inspiration and also because there are a number of things I’d like to talk about from the book.

Within the first chapter, Murakami mentions that he’s often asked what he thinks about when he runs, being a long distance (i.e. marathon) runner. Since I’m not famous, and no one really asks me anything about my running except to ask where and/or for how long I run, I don’t think I’ve been asked this before. I have, however, pondered the question in my own time, and it seems that my answer is more or less the same as Murakami’s:

On cold days I guess I think a little about how cold it is. And about the heat on hot days. … But really as I run, I don’t think much of anything worth mentioning.

He then goes on to talk about running in a void, or running to create a void, and that, I think, is one of the truly marvellous things about running.

This afternoon*, however, I went for a run, and I tried to make mental notes about what I thought about, just for interest’s sake. It’s still nothing really “worth mentioning”, but this is my blog, and it’s already filled with plenty of pointless ramblings, so one more surely wouldn’t hurt…   Continue reading

the pigeon

When I walk to my usual bus stop, I always walk along a street that passes under the freeway – or, rather, the freeway passes above the street. Underneath the freeway, the concrete is covered in bird droppings, and you just know there are always pigeons around somewhere nearby.

Yesterday morning, when I was walking this very same route, there was a pigeon lying on the concrete off to the side of the footpath, right under the freeway. It only took one glance to know that it was dead.

Later that day, in the staff tea room, I was reading a copy of National Geographic that someone had brought in and left at the table. There was an interesting little feature article about death and how it’s defined. It quoted some medical definition that referred to the cessation of either brain activity or heart function, but also touched on the spiritual significance of death, and how this could create another definition altogether.

It having been a busy morning, and me having read the article quickly because I was only on a short break, I did not immediately connect the pigeon and the content of the article. And you might ask “But why would you? It’s just a pigeon!” but I should tell you that I have a kind of fondness for pigeons. Not the kind of fondness that one might have for puppies or kittens, but more of a kind of sympathetic fondness for these simple creatures.

The thing that struck me the most the first time I saw this poor pigeon, was how peaceful it seemed. It did not look like it had been attacked and killed, and no scavengers had yet come to claim its flesh.

Only tonight, when I walked past it again (someone had moved it aside, further out of the way, but I assume it was the same pigeon), did I think of that article again. The way that the pigeon was lying there, its wings folded in close to its body, made me think how perfectly it would fit into my cupped hands. I imagined the warmth emanating from its body, the gentle rhythm of its heartbeat, and a soft coo rising from deep in its throat.

I slowed my pace momentarily, marvelling at how its body was still so intact (although who knows what has happened beneath the feathers smoothed over its body). It very well could have just been asleep – in an odd place and an unusual position, but asleep nonetheless. I thought of that article again, and wondered if it really might still be alive, in the sense that it wasn’t dead, based on the technicalities of the definition(s).

It was a humbling experience found in an unexpected place.

au contraire

Here’s one for the psychoanalysts among us, or even the randomly curious or generally opinionated.

I was pondering what to write for a post, going through my little notebook where I write down ideas, and I realised that there are several contradictory aspects of my personality. I couldn’t be bothered creating separate posts for them all (not so much being lazy, but I didn’t think I’d be able to write enough content-wise to substantiate a decent post), so I’ve combined them into the one post here. Continue reading