What’s changing is that this wish resembles more of an ache now. It wraps its tendrils around things I never wished it to.
Deep among the valleys of my mid-twenties as I press ever on toward the eventual, inevitable horizon ahead, I find myself treading fertile ground. There are years that wither, years that yield the smallest harvest, years perhaps where one spends every waking hour simply plucking those indomitable weeds. Until one day, the rains come. Life, they say, has a way of springing back to old vigor with the same inevitability as the road before us reaching that far-off town and the one beyond.
Frankly, the planting that must be done in such cases is at times similarly all-consuming. If I have not written since February, it is because the Gardener has planted so many seeds around me, and given me like Adam the grace-kissed toil: to till and to keep. I have cried, laughed, smiled, felt more than ever I could have hoped for in the first half of this year. I am soaked through with the joy of it all. I have thought long and hard about the life I’ve built around me, of what I must do to clean it up, to make it the kind of gift to God and to others I would like it to be. Dependability, discipline, devotion—these are all things I long to cultivate within myself, if in part because I find myself so often lacking in them. We are our harshest critics. But perhaps that’s because we know the kind of medicine we need, even if we don’t know how it works.
The challenge for the Christian lies in not mistaking these ideas for the Gospel.
In the first decade of this brave new millennium, the internet was a very different concept to me than it is now. For starters, my grandparents still subscribed to AOL, so every Christmas when we’d visit, I got to experience a World Wide Web that inspired a great deal of patience. Or, perhaps could inspire patience were I not a young boy. To me, born as I was to a tech-savvy father who worked remotely long before it was cool, the technology was both immensely fascinating and deeply inconvenient. The otherworldly song of the modem, the fact that we couldn't take a phone call while I used it: simply mind-blowing. Why would we need to take a phone call when I was engaged in the much more important task of waiting for Flash games to load on the BBC's Doctor Who webpage? (Some of these games were legitimately excellent. Shoutout if you remember the Dalek one.)
My grandparents have long since subscribed to the faster internet of today—perhaps at this point even faster than what my parents have. I recall when I moved to the city, the slowest speed I could choose was 200 Mbps. A great speed when I'm downloading very legal Linux ISO's but hardly utilized the rest of the time. And in some places the “default” speed is significantly faster. The series of tubes flows with more bandwidth than ever.
Partially as a result of this overabundance, the Web is also heavier than it has ever been. Back when it took dozens of seconds to load a single image, developers found many clever ways to optimize load times. As more of the Web has become interactive, the strain has shifted to servers and clients alike as content is generated in real time and pushed to the user. Not to mention ads. If we were to tally the potential energy savings of re-designing the Web according to those 90's principles, I wonder how much electricity we would save. Hell, forget electricity—have you ever looked up how much water it takes to cool all the massive data centers we've built? Talk about a Colorado River…
“Maybe our favorite quotations say more about us than about the stories and people we're quoting.”
In the brief but explosive history of the Internet, platform fatigue has made itself a recurring theme. I started blogging when I was fourteen, back when Wordpress.com seemed like the cool kid on the block but a lot of people still used Blogger. And Wordpress was delightful, but unfortunately as a terminally online person, all my Twitter mutuals are now on Substack, and I too have been wooed by the clean, minimal aesthetic. (50 years ago existence had foisted none of these concepts upon any of us and probably things were a lot quieter and more peaceful for it. But c’est la vie!)
If you are reading this, I can only assume you are someone I know, or at the very least someone who knows me. How else would you have stumbled across this corner of the internet I’ve only just begun to inhabit? I do hope you will forgive the mess. I have many boxes and thoughts and questions that have yet to be brought in and set in their proper place, so for now it is just the two of us.
I did unpack some boxes of tea and a few of the mugs that haven’t been chipped in the shuffle of moving. The kettle is on the stove, rumbling as it steadies itself to let forth the ghostly wail that announces the time has come to take a break and thoughtfully infuse. For such an unnerving sound, it has a lot of pleasant connotations. Strange, isn’t it?