What’s important

Starting something new can be difficult.

It can be particularly difficult when you don’t know what you want to get out of it. This blog and the associated twitter feed, for instance, have gone through numerous incarnations since its inception in May of 2010. My original intention, as a newly minted public health graduate was for What Do You Matter? to be a forum to discuss public health issues and the role of young practitioners in the field. After two posts, it lay inactive. I’d think about this domain from time to time, always saying that I’d get back to it. I came up with other reasons for it to exist, but they never left my notebook- and even more frequently, my head. What a waste.

Time went on and many things in my life changed, but the need to write and the ensuing paralysis I felt whenever I sat down to do it didn’t. No reason was good enough. I floundered and floundered, always saying that I should write and never actually writing. My father died, and I started an autobiographical project that I quickly lost faith in. I embarked on a 1600-mile bike tour, took notes with the intention of writing, and still didn’t do it. I left on a month-long honeymoon and then traveled alone for another six weeks to national parks, small towns, and big cities, taking notes and pictures the whole way, and still didn’t do it. Do you see what I’m saying? The need was there, and always has been, but I haven’t been doing the work. I haven’t ever committed to it. And I’ve hated myself for that. Perhaps I had some fantasies about the role of inspiration. More likely, I’ve just been a coward who is willing to make excuses (good ones, too) and settled for dissatisfaction, rather than embrace change.

I am terrified. I know it’s unreasonable. I know I’ve done legitimately dangerous things with less apprehension than I have right now. I’ve been steps from heat exhaustion and probable death, alone and in the middle of nowhere, and I’d trade that in an instant for the discomfort of typing in the comfort of my own apartment.

I’ve accepted, though, that my desire to write will probably never go away. I’ve accepted that if I want to untie this knot, I simply have to get to work at it. I have to write.

There is an explanation for the title of the blog, the quote at the top right, and the story of the twitter handle. I’ll get to all that later.

For now, here’s what’s important:

  • This isn’t just me. My partner Maggie will be involved too. She’ll participate and post at her own pace and in her own time. Other friends will also be invited to participate as What Do You Matter? finds its voice.
  • This is a blog about change. This is a blog about committing to your own life. This is a blog about skepticism and questioning. This is a blog about authenticity.
  • Maggie and I have decided to, roughly speaking, buy nothing for a year. I half-joked that we should blog about it, and she surprised me with her love of the idea, so we’ll write about it for as long as it’s interesting.
  • I will definitely also be writing about minimalism, diet, exercise, travel, and ideas I found in books.
  • Your comments are appreciated.

I want this to be awesome, but first and foremost I just need to get it started. I think we can explore some pretty neat things here if we give it a chance. Let’s get to it and see what happens.


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