There are moments when I think I have devoted more energy addressing the Rehberg for Senate campaign than Representative Rehberg did—I certainly did during the last week. By the way, has anyone heard from the man since last Tuesday?
It’s more than the effort that’s required to research and write quality posts. I struggle with the tone that blogs seem to generate. If you’ll indulge a personal story, when I graduated from college, I headed immediately to law school, planning to put my debate background into the pursuit of a law degree and career as a lawyer.
The second day at law school, I realized something about myself. I joke now that it was an existential crisis, but it’s not far from the truth. I was a successful debater in college because I was merciless and driven. Winning and losing meant everything to me, and so I sacrificed my health, friendships, relationships, and kindness in the pursuit of victory. On that second day of law school, I realized that the law would have been another avenue perfectly suited to that kind of aggression.
Not every lawyer is like that; I just knew that I would have been. After a 15 minute drive, I knew that I needed to leave law school and go back to something else. Those ended up being coaching and teaching. At the end of that drive, I made the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.
Teaching, while a profession that does require being critical, isn’t one that demands biting criticism. It’s not about winning and losing, but about helping people find ways to achieve success. It’s about lifting people up rather than tearing them down.
It seems blogging is a lot more like debate than teaching. The posts that get attention, the posts that matter? Critical. The more bitter the better. And that’s what I’m good at.
I’m just not sure I want to invest energy right now into do those things. For awhile, at least. I want to spend some time sinking into some great books (a re-read of Anna Karenina is calling me right now) and investing more energy into the people around me. In my favorite book, Leo Tolstoy’s Resurrection, Tolstoy writes of his protagonist:
More than once in Nekhludoff’s life there had been what he called a “cleansing of the soul.” By “cleansing of the soul” he meant a state of mind in which, after a long period of sluggish inner life, a total cessation of its activity, he began to clear out all the rubbish that had accumulated in his soul, and was the cause of the cessation of the true life. His soul needed cleansing as a watch does.
It might be time for a little cleaning.
This doesn’t mean that Intelligent Discontent is going to die. We’ve injected some much-needed life in the past few months with some insightful, bright writers and I certainly plan to keep the site running for them. if you’re someone with an interest in writing for a great site that has, surprisingly enough, generated a fairly impressive following, please drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the event this is my last post, I do owe some thanks.
Thanks to Jason for starting this thing about with me and Matt Singer for giving me the encouragement and promotion when I started. I’m not sure that anyone would have ever made it over to my site without his mention from Left in the West. Thanks to Jay Stevens, who really inspired me to see the potential of long-form blogging and the importance of writing well, not just interestingly. I can’t forget Rob, who often mounted a better defense my posts in comments than I did.Thanks to the anonymous folks at 4and20 blackbirds and MT Cowgirl—even if I don’t know who you are, I’ve enjoyed sparring with and working cooperatively with you.
Thanks to Matt, Tyler, Jesse, Micah, Aaron, and Jesse for coming on board to add some great arguments to the site.
Thanks to all of the people who’ve been reading and commenting over the years. While I’m reminded of what Bilbo Baggins said at his farewell party in The Fellowship of the Ring, when he said, “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve,” it’s been a pleasure discussing and arguing with many of you.
Thanks to all of the people who sent in tips and suggestions, even criticism, you jerks.
Vacation or retirement? Time will tell. There is a legislative session coming to town, and good intentions or not, the spectacle of the nullifying, gun-toting, UN-conspiracy theorizing Legislature debating issue that mattered to the people of the Montana Territory in 1878 might just bring me back.