First, I must preface this post by commending the blogger, vlogger, and every artist in between. To allow the world even a peek of your life through self-expression, in all of its formidable forms, is a respectable act that can only be conquered with tremendous amounts of courage. Even still, I find myself inclined to limit the range in which I write in fear that I’ll show a gaping vulnerability, and I constantly have to remind myself that those moments of pain, fear, weakness, embarrassment, and shame are integral to the experience of life and should not be hushed. In a world that is becoming more algorithmic by the second, it is dire to remind ourselves of our humanity and work together to keep it intact. For me, that means pouring my soul into the written word. For others, that means letting their spirit run wild on film. All in all, sharing our experiences through expression is a noble pursuit, and by no means is blogging superior to vlogging. These are simply my reasons for picking the pen over the lens for my north-bound hike this upcoming April.
I write to think.
Have you ever felt isolated in your thoughts, only to stumble across something so relatable it stops you in your tracks in disbelief? That glorious moment of connectivity is something I’d often experience during undergrad as I meandered my way through the halls to peruse the motivational posters pinned to the walls. My favorite was a quote by Joan Didion that hung above the water-foundation reading, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” Until I discovered this nugget of wisdom above the spigot, I felt self-conscious about my inability to grasp my thoughts until I put pen to paper.
I suddenly understood that it isn’t necessary to know my thoughts before writing as long as I am patient enough to capture them as they flash across my head. The blank page seems to tame my frenetic mind as if I am the receiver of disjointed morse-code with the message being deciphered by my fingers alone. My head hardly feels involved half the time, yet I know the writing is mine because I recognize the emotion behind it. It’s like seeing your favorite shirt on someone else – you know the beloved blouse belongs to you, yet it feels foreign to see it sported by a stranger.
When writing, thoughts that otherwise exclude me invite me to the party, offering me a whack at the piñata to uncover the treats inside.
I can be present in the moment.
Film beautifully captures the rawness of life in real-time, encapsulating an experience in its totality by documenting sound, color, emotion, and more. In some ways, this is more convenient than writing because there is no need to be patient. One can merely exist and let the camcorder do the work. At the same time, the videographer can become a martyr, relinquishing their ability to be present in the moment in order to capture the moment.
It can be difficult to decide which is better: the experience of capturing or the experience of surrendering. With the first, you imprison life’s fleeting moments in film and risk missing part of the experience, yet you can share it with the world and let others live vicariously through you. With the latter, you surrender to the “now” and leave reliving it up to memory alone. For me, writing empowers me to be present in the moment and capture the adventure as an afterthought. And as I entice my ephemeral thoughts with patience, I can reflect deeper on a moment I could experience more completely by not recording it.
I applaud all the vloggers who can co-exist in the moment and behind the lens because watching YouTube is part of the fun of planning a thru-hike. While I don’t intend to vlog myself, I’ve found much joy in following other people’s hikes through film.
My mom demands updates.
I’ve strategically placed this reason last to see if my mom actually reads all the way through these things – LOL. If you’re not my mom, please do not let her know. Let’s see if she gets this far. My irreplaceable, ever-concerned mom demands updates not because she is over-protective but because she loves me. Lucky for her, blog updates are a deep-dive into my psyche, so she might be getting more than the “I made it to the next town” texts that she signed up for, but so be it. Love you, mom!
The blogging has begun, and I’m so ready for it – now, let’s just get to the hiking.