What I’ve Learned in Four Years

My website is four years old. November 12, 2008 was the day I gave birth to this little guy. It doesn’t seem like so long ago until you consider that four years is an entire high school or college tenure. Once you start thinking about all the stuff you did throughout high school, throughout college, four years becomes an eternity. And yet here’s this journal of sorts, this commentary on sports and life and whatnot, that’s been around for that length of time. The only things in my life that have existed for four years or more have all been meaningful. So I guess that makes this meaningful, too.

I’ve learned a lot in four years. I can’t even begin to categorize everything I’ve learned. But as I’ve grown up, as I’ve matured (sort of), a decent number of my experiences have been alluded to here. Anyone who has read this site has lived my life with me. And I guess, when I really start to dwell on that, it’s kind of weird. Most people probably don’t share their experiences to the degree that I have. Most writers, I feel, don’t inject so much of their being into their work. Since the very beginning, however, I haven’t been able to separate myself from the words I write. These words are mine. I want them to feel like mine. Love them or hate them, I want the readers to know who they came from. There tends to be a great deal of anonymity in online print. Likewise, so many writers tend to carefully douse their opinions in a healthy dose of objectivity. I’ve never wanted to hide behind my words or hesitate to share my true feelings. And to date, that’s led to four years of this.

I’ll admit that in the past year, since the last time I jotted down one of these “reflection” columns, I haven’t written nearly as much as I’ve wanted to. I’ve relied heavily on Twitter — yeah, Twitter — to get my opinions across. They call it microblogging. I call it lazy. I’ve been lazy. And when I do write, a lot of times it’s out of fear of becoming irrelevant. Ask any writer what they’re most afraid of and they’ll tell you it’s just that, irrelevance. Going long stretches without being heard from can turn one into a forgotten commodity. I’ve had a knack for doing that in the past twelve months. It sucks. I’ve been working a lot (yes, I have a real job), turned my attention elsewhere, and at the end of the day, when I’m exhausted, the energy to give my best to this thing I really enjoy just isn’t there the way I want it to be. In those instances, I try not to write simply for the sake of writing. It’s an injustice to the craft. So what that leads to is week-long stretches (or more) without articles.

Oddly enough, writing less has actually benefited me in some ways. When I do write now, more people seem to engage with what I’ve written. I really appreciate that. There’s no reason you need to be reading the one thing I write each week, and yet you do anyway. I know a lot of writers might pretend they don’t care who’s reading, don’t care who’s paying attention, but I do. I do. It’s in our nature to appreciate recognition when its received. The recognition alone means a ton. Even when it’s someone letting you know that they disagree entirely with everything they’ve just read. If you have an opinion at all, then I’ve done something right. When you don’t care, that’s when any writer can start to worry.

One thing I’ve always found funny is that writers who share their opinions in print are tasked with sounding like they’ve got everything all figured out every time they publish an article. And yet each time I publish something, I feel like I’ve got less figured out than I did before I started my piece. In fact, a lot of conveying an opinion is just selling yourself on whatever it is you think people want to hear. And once you’ve sold yourself, you can preach to an audience willing to listen. It’s a matter of believing in an idea. Knowledge isn’t necessarily required. So what I’ve found in writing is that with each belief I perpetuate unto the masses, my knowledge of life in general becomes less than it may have been originally. That might not make a whole lot of sense, but it’s how I feel. And as that feeling grows, I try to pursue more information, knowing that I’ll never have all the answers I need. Which in itself is odd, because when we’re younger — and not even that much younger, college-aged, for example — we come to these checkpoints in our life and try to trick our minds into believing that we’ve figured it all out. We haven’t. We won’t. It’s the reality of the situation.

I say all that because I’m constantly amused by writers who act like they’ve got it all figured out, who put themselves above human nature. You can look at any number of columnists, journalists, reporters, what-have-you, and there is this rift between them and their audience. Emotions are not shared. Connections are not made. There is nothing bridging the gap between reader and writer. There is a distance created out of who knows what. Fear, perhaps. Uncertainty. A paycheck, a job. We’re inclined to close ourselves off to one another and I don’t know why. When we’re given the opportunity to open up, as most writers or media members of any sort are, it seems like we’d want to take that opportunity to relate to others. I’ve always cherished that opportunity. And I guess one of the benefits I’ve enjoyed in doing this for four years now, is that I’ve have had those chances to connect with other people like me. Really, when you think about it, we all share at least a couple commonalities here or there. We’re a lot more alike than we know. We won’t see eye to eye on everything, but we can at least respect each other’s differences knowing that there will always be those things we agree on to keep us together.

I like bringing people together. Through words or whatever. Opinions, shared beliefs, a search for knowledge. I enjoy it. People are generally good. And a lot of times I feel like we forget that. I’ve met so many good people because of this website, though, that it’s one of the few things I think I may have figured out. People are good. It’s up to each one of us to bring out that goodness in one another. If there’s anything I’ve done in four years, if there’s anything I’ll continue to do going forward, it’s attempt to bring out the goodness in those who land here, who divert their attention to my site even for a moment. It has nothing to do with sports or writing, per se, but those two things have simply become vehicles for my life and the legacy I suppose I’ll end up leaving behind someday.

The thing is, we define ourselves by what we do rather than how we do it. Anyone can write. Anyone can talk about sports. Anyone can make stupid jokes, own a Twitter account, or give their buddies public hell (good-natured public hell, keep in mind) on a daily basis. Doing those things doesn’t make any one of us unique. How we do those things, however, can be special.

I could write every day, commit no typos, deliver every punch line to a tee, bring in zillions of readers, and I wouldn’t care as much about that as I do the people who have made this a worthwhile experience for me. There are many of you. You’ve shared four years of my life with me. That’s a long-term commitment. I don’t even put out and you stick around. Consider that. That’s special. We have a special relationship. And I’m grateful for that.

Four years is a long time. Without a doubt, it has been the best four years of my life.

2 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned in Four Years”

  1. Although I’m a Coug and you’re a husky, I feel like over the last 4 years of reading your stuff we are almost the same person. Same age. same interests (sports). Same love of local sports (besides uw). I love coming here, reading an article, and feeling like you expressed exactly how I feel. It’s a fun feeling knowing someone is as passionate about local sports (besides uw) as me. I even like reading the occational wsu jab, knowing I can jab right back. But I keep coming back because you’re a talented writer who can express what he feels very well. And that my friend makes what you love about writing real. GO Cougs!

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