In which we examine the re-designing of this blog by pondering philosophical ideas about its author, and how she is similar to an ancient, metaphorical, Greek sailing vessel.
There’s a thought experiment known as The Ship of Theseus, which poses the question as to whether an object which has had all of its original components replaced over time is still the same object.
The story is thus*: Long ago in Greece, a king by the name of Theseus, sets out on a ship, and wins a great battle before returning safely home. In his honour, the Athenians erect the ship as a monument to his glory. Eventually, however, the ship’s boards start rotting. The devoted Athenians cut new boards, strip away the rotting wood, and affix new planks. A while later, of course, the sail becomes weathered and torn. Again, the Athenians trim a new sail from fresh cloth and fix it to the mast. Then the mast itself is ridden with termites and must be replaced. Then the rudder breaks and more boards fall apart and the oars are lost. Soon, every remnant of Theseus’ vessel has been removed and replaced with new parts, which poses one very important question: is it still fundamentally the original ship as sailed by Theseus?
If so then how, but if not, then at what point did the ship become a different ship?
I don’t bring this up to wax philosophical or write a detailed analysis of the arguments for and against the paradox. That’s not the post you’re going to get**. So, let us put a pin in the Ship of Theseus for a minute and turn our attention to what does need discussing, namely, the redesign of this blog***.
If you are brave and bored enough to venture into the archives^ you’ll notice throughout my years of owning this particular part of the internet, I have taken long (often very long) leaves of absence. In some cases, this is because I actually do still write, but choose not to share the posts because they are private. In others, this is because I find myself wondering what the point is. In almost every case, I have eventually shrugged these feelings off and returned.
The trouble is, for me, writing is a particularly personal endeavour. I never write anything without intent. Therefore, writing can be emotionally draining, enlightening, explorative, a means to let go of painful thoughts or understand difficult events and feelings, emotionally sustaining, stabilising, to record, to learn and etc and etc. To make matters more complicated, I always try to give this blog meaning as well. If you’ve been following me for the nearing seven years it has been in existance^^ you’ll know that the elements of the design have remained constant for almost as long.
In my latest disappearance, I haven’t actually lacked the want to write or to post, I just didn’t feel doing so had any meaning. I even analysed the idea of deleting the blog, because I wasn’t sure what I was doing with it anymore. It was meant for so much at the beginning when I was younger and super eager, and had a ridiculously organised and impossible plan for my life. I posted then because I wanted to get my writing out there and seen, and I wanted (somewhat egotistically, I now realise) to record everything about my life going exactly the way I had imagined it would. When, however, life started to ease away from that ideal, I desperately clung to this blog as a means of preserving it. I wanted to present to the world someone who knew what they doing; someone who had interesting thoughts and an interesting life. I tried to be something else. I tried to make the blog different each time, but without changing the core aspect of what it was meant for. I was unconsciously holding on to the life-plan I had set out at 21. This blog was like the ship of Theseus left to simply rot away.
The truth of the matter is I too am like the ship of Theseus. Who I am and what I want have developed steadily over time, piece by piece, thought by thought. I have become someone who resembles the person who started this blog, but I’m constructed by entirely different elements.
As my life veered my motivations changed, as circumstances altered so to did my understandings of the world. I met people who impacted on what I valued and how I see myself. I learned lessons the hard way. My social circle has changed, my geographic location has changed. Everything about the 21-year-old (somewhat deluded) girl who began this has been replaced, gradually, just like the legendary ship.
At the core of me am I the same person? I don’t know. I’ve spent many a wakeful night asking myself that, and never come to any solid conclusion. Whether I am or not isn’t really important. The significant part is, I’m not made of the same parts. My experiences have shaped my thoughts and feelings beyond what that person would even be able to understand back then.
This blog as it stood became meaningless the moment the person who started it vanished. I’m not sure at what point she vanished completely, but she did. I didn’t want to realise that. I was still holding onto her, this girl who had her young life ahead, who believed life would work out exactly as she wanted, who had potential and hope. I’ve come to understand recently that holding so tightly to her stops me from creating new plans and having new hopes. There was only going to be any meaning in writing and posting here again if I pulled the blog in line with who I am now.
So, I tentatively test blogged yesterday with something I had wanted to write about and share for a long time. The idea was to explore how I felt about having shared it, even without extensive editing^^^, but when I clicked to check the upload was displaying, I was underwhelmed by what I saw. A header image that was taken many years ago; back then I found it an inspiring photograph of a place I often walked to think and feel. Now I live some 300 miles away and even when I didn’t, I stopped frequently visiting years ago. That place will always hold meaning for me, but not the same meaning as it did. The style and colours I once thought as vibrant and clean, were just dull. The name^* had no resonance at all. I tried to recall the reasons I had for choosing it and couldn’t come up with anything. Obviously, something about it held me at the beginning, but it held me captured no longer. The title didn’t represent me anymore.
To delete or not to delete, that dear hypothetical audience, was the question.
I started asking other questions as I hovered over the idea. Is deleting the blog extreme? Is the blog meaningless? If I delete this one, would I eventually start another? Should I preserve that old part of me? Will the things I have written here one day be something I look back on? Do they still have value even though I’ve changed? Am I merely clogging up the internet with useless, unnecessary drivel?*^ Is this really what I want; for something that has been a significant part of my adult life to be gone?
As you plainly see, I decided not to remove it. At least right now, I didn’t want it gone. Besides, even if I did, I could always come back and delete it later maybe having preserved the parts I found value in. But I needed to address a few things if I was going to continue. For starters, what did I want the blog to be?
The answer was actually a relatively simple and liberating one. I just wanted it to be a place I could write and share stuff. I didn’t want restrictions anymore. I didn’t want to worry if something fits into the purpose anymore. I just wanted to write honestly about things I think are worth others hearing. I want to record my life as it happens without worry about sounding professional and ‘perfect’ all the time. I want to connect with the world and people who might benefit from seeing someone having the same life issues or misunderstandings as they do. I just want to write and share stuff.
And thus, I started ripping up the rotting boards. I pulled down the tattered sail and recalibrated the rudder**^. I gave the site a name more in tune to the tone and style of the posts, and a tagline which better explains what the blog is actually about. I removed some of the widgets. I refreshed the colours^^*. I kept the core of what the blog had always been about (me, and writing, and living), but I attuned it to my new understanding of what that is. I gave everything a fresh coat of digital paint to represent it’s new place and meaning in my life.
This is a new ship. I stand upon the bow, clean wood beneath my feet and the wind in a billowing white sail. Will I write here more consistently? What will I write about exactly? I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll return in a few days having found the whole thing fruitless. Maybe you’ll come back in a week and everything will be gone. Error 404. This site no longer exists. There is a freedom in thinking that though. Whatever happens, I’ve let go of what this blog was when it started.
I’m ready to just write and see.
~The title sucks, but really I couldn’t think of anything else. Also, cover image can be found here.
*Shortened somewhat, and as I understand it based on my personal research. In some cases, the ship itself was altered by Theseus and his crew. In these instances, the ship is gradually altered en route and is therefore questioned upon its return home. The prevailing story, however, is the one given here. I have added a touch of personal flourish for dramatic effect, as I am want to do. You can believe everything you read on the internet, right? Right!? No, no you can’t. Be sure to do your own research. It’s a fascinating idea, anyway. I encourage you to explore it further.
**I wrote that having started and deleted a very stark segway into exactly that. I added this footnote because I’m proud I managed to redirect back before things got out of hand. Yay me.
***Don’t worry, it’ll all come together.
^Now located at the bottom of the page. You’ll need a torch, a dust buster, and if you don’t enjoy arachnids, some form of non-lethal insect repellent. Also, maybe a hat. You might look good in a hat.
^^ If you exist, here’s a huge shout-out to the hypothetical audience who have put up with almost seven years of my nonsense. I hope it at least has given something back to you even if it’s just a little laugh now and then.
^^^Because you don’t know how many posts you haven’t seen because my perfectionist mindset has prevented me from sharing anything I deem ‘not good enough’, which isn’t always a terrible thing but can be crippling to the joy of writing and sharing. Another problem in the consistently blogging corner.
^* Which was, for anyone including myself who might be reading in the distant future, Life Unwritten. As stated above, I don’t remember exactly why I picked this title, but it the word ‘Unwritten’ itself is taken from a popular-in-my-day Natalie Bedingfield song of the same name.
*^Yeah maybe. But that’s what the internet kind of is. At least 90% is unnecessary if enjoyable, and a good portion of that is drivel.
**^I am making that up; I don’t know if you can recalibrate a rudder. It sounds like a thing, which is why it works in the sentence, but I can’t be bothered to research it. Anyone out there know? Can you calibrate a rudder on ancient Greek ships? Seriously, no idea.
^^*Sorry about the grey writing. The format doesn’t allow me to change the colour, unlike that last one. If I find a way to brighten it up, I will, though that may take some exploring of the formats available.