Wednesday, May 02, 2007

On the Occasion of my Fourth Blogday

Four years ago today I began a blog called "Vajrayana Practice." I was starting a new meditation practice, and I wanted to keep a journal of it, and I was no longer used to writing on paper -- I'd been working in a paperless office for several years. And it was new software to play with.

I at least pretended to myself that I thought no one would want to read it. I distinctly remember my mouse pointer hesitating between the buttons that would make it public or private. I had a pious hope that reading about my practice difficulties might help other meditators, and a not very pious hope, imperfectly submerged, that lots of people would read it, and all of them would find me fascinating and admirable. I clicked public.

When I was a boy we used to go swim at a place we called "the pipeline." A big iron pipe (for natural gas?) crossed over the gorge of a little river. We could clamber out onto the pipe and jump off into the water, some thirty or forty feet below. There was always that last moment, the culmination of recklessness, the moment when it was too late to change my mind, when my feet left the pipe. Clicking "public" reminded me of that. And clicking "publish" still does.

Then, almost at once, my feet would smack the surface, and there would be the shock of cold water. No matter how vertical I held myself, I never plunged straight down. On hitting the water there was a veering, a jackknifing, and I'd find myself rushing at an unexpected tangent in the green sunlit water, disoriented, having to wait a moment to slow down and figure out what had become of "up."

The motto of my blog, back then, was taken from Blake:

Does the Eagle know what is in the pit?
Or wilt thou go ask the Mole:
Can wisdom be put in a silver rod,
Or Love in a golden bowl?

One day I posted something that made a friend feel unhappily exposed. I wanted to get rid of the post without drawing attention to the fact, so I pretended its disappearance was part of a general reconstruction, and made some changes I'd been contemplating for a long time. Calling the blog "vajrayana practice," as if I were some sort of authority, had made me uneasy from the start. And anyway, it had stopped being primarily a practice journal. I made a few cosmetic changes, monkeyed with fonts and what-not, and announced my new incarnation as "mole."

I don't know if I fooled anybody, but the name of "mole" seemed to resonate with people, and someone -- Bonta? -- referred to Kenneth Grahame's Mole. It was a persona I was much more comfortable with. I wasn't an earnest, disciplined seeker after enlightenment. I was hapless, easily delighted and bewildered, gratefully overwhelmed by friendship, torn between wanderlust and homesickness, dazzled by a world that was a little more brilliant than nature had equipped me to absorb.

Thank you. Thanks especially to Badger and Water Rat, and to Toad (no link, he seems to have taken one joyride too many; some of you will know who I mean). But I could multiply heartfelt thanks for pages, and still be leaving out someone who said exactly the right thing at the right time, to comfort me or challenge me, pull me up short or send me off looking. You all have been wonderful.

The lifespan of a mole, I learn, is "up to three years." This blog has begun to feel a bit elderly to me. This is not a farewell post, but I do sense that I ought to begin putting my blog affairs in order. All things must pass.

Thank you so much.

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