Walking in Dog Valley today with Coco, thinking about this new magical portal that I am about to bestow on the world whether it wants it or not. This is not my first magical portal, and although I hope it will be my last, I sort of doubt it. What I want to send through the doorway to the vast Interweb is the question that has always bothered me. And why? Why maybe simpler: I want attention, I think I have something to “share” with the world. I want to become rich and famous on my own terms with nothing but the product of my senses, imagination, mind. I want people to “like” me. So the why is simple, the same impetus that has pushed artists and writers through the ages. But what? I’m interested in what I do, obviously, but how do I frame it for readers so that I am not simply standing in some corner of the room screaming “look at me!”
Well the best I’ve come up with so far is summed up in the title of this post. First, I want to write mostly about the places that I love. Unique places that even as they become more visited are still as unknown as anything can be in hypermodernity—where down to this little windy copse of aspens has been dissected from outer space.
But places, as rich as they are in my mind’s eye, are not in themselves enough to keep me or you interested for all that long. So I realized that it couldn’t be the whole answer to the “what” looming over my shoulder as I hopped from rock to rock across the muddy flat toward Dog Creek.
I thought about the words “share” and “like” and how their meanings have changed so much recently. How the massive amount of sharing and liking that we have been doing has sort of divorced these words from their origins. Sharing being the bedrock of human courtesy, the verb corollary to the Golden Rule. When you “do unto others” aren’t you just sharing respect. And liking is a foundation of our capacity for wonder and pleasure, and a fundamental motivation for knowledge and love.
So share what I like, what interests me: places, of course, but why not add in readings, activities, anything. That became too much. I like the reflection of the willows in the creek water below me as I watch Coco walk down for a drink, but what meaning would it ever have for anyone interested in reading this rambling train of thought or looking at a picture that I snapped of it?
There was still a component missing. Something that I’ve felt was missing from all of my Interweb sharing. I thought about basinandrange.org, the project Renee and I have been working on together and how the articles I’ve been writing about mountain ranges have made me learn more about places I’ve been familiar with as long as I’ve had consciousness. And what struck me then (and who knows if it’s right, it’s just a work in progress) was the idea of “learning.” I thought I am always in the end simply narcissistic and shallow if I share what I know. But it might be interesting, it might intrigue if I focus as much on what I don’t know as what I do know. If I focus not on being an expert (which I am a bad one anyway), but on being a learner. On sharing the exploration of learning something, always learning—or failing to learn—about the things that I like in all of the writing, all of the images, that I share with the world here.
So basin + ranging: evoking the landscape I love but ranging beyond it, always pushing deeper into the infinite space beyond the feeble light of my intellect and knowledge. And while I’m very uncomfortable with the idea of reinvention, of making myself into a “new” person, there is also an element of that here. In wanting to expand myself instead of standing with what I’ve always done. In not settling for the same old same old that I’ve gotten comfortable with.