Hit the ground running… have I done this? Not really.
Consider this idiom: A parachuting reference? Jumping off a train? Out of a car? I googled the etymology and found “It may come from troops dropped into a combat zone, from stowaways.” Ignoring the weird punctuation, I tried to find out what a ‘stowaway’ is. This usage is not the person who snags a free ride, this stowaway is a thing. Or maybe a place.
Google “stowaway,” I came up empty. A dozen internet searches and I even dug out my eighties-era unabridged dictionary. Its cracked three-inch binding uneasy on my tender hands. The onion-skin pages wrinkled from years of hard use. Nothing in there either. I don’t know what it means to be dropped, from stowaways.
But this I know: to hit the ground running when you’re falling at velocity is binary–you either do it or you wipe out.
Possibly, it refers to G.I.s dropped into the surf, as they were during the World War Two invasion of Normandy: storming the beach, wading to shore under a hail of bullets and bombs. When you hit dry-ground, you’re already running. Running, or you die. Statistically, you probably die anyway.
Hit the ground running isn’t the proper idiom. Failure is too severe. Caught flat-footed is a better fit. It calls up images of an inattentive athlete suddenly realizing that the play has passed him by.
This is me.
Yesterday, I realized that the pace of life picked up. I suppose this happened weeks ago, but I only just noticed. When I wasn’t watching, my life began to resemble everyone else’s.
Since my kids were born, I’ve lived a mellow life. My job was easy and predictable. No one in my house was over-scheduled, especially not me. My kids were never involved in the relentless travel-sports that plagued the households of my peers. I spent no time in my car. No late hours at work. I didn’t need a cell phone because there was no where I needed to be. I was blessed with simplicity.
This has changed. As teenagers, my kids have discovered team sports. Sophie joined the rugby team and Eli tried out for soccer. My job, new since December, has an unpredictability to it. I’m suddenly finding myself leaving work an hour past quitting time simply to drive to a field and wait for a kid to finish practice. I break out the iPhone I now carry in my pocket, and I fish through WordPress looking for a blog to read.
There aren’t as many as there once were. Do you ever wonder what happens to some of the bloggers you follow? Some dwindle away, like me, posting less frequently and more sporadically, life over-taking their free time. This change is evident in their posts. You learn they are now sitting at soccer fields rather than drinking coffee, writing blog posts. But some bloggers disappear altogether. And all at once. In a comments-exchange this week, I was directed to a post about what happens to your blog when you die.
This got me thinking of my blogging friend Charlotte. She always commented on my posts, always more encouraging than I thought reasonable. She posted a couple of times per week; had plans to monetize her blog. She was already exchanging (honest) reviews for free stuff. One day she posted that she was pregnant, and then she never posted again. She never commented on my blog again. This was almost a year ago. Did she die? Or just decide that blogging was no longer important in her life.
Sitting in my car, the minutes rapidly slipping beyond when practice was scheduled to end, I realize I’ve hit middle-age in my blogging life. Many of the relationships I created when I was new to blogging have drifted away, petered out. And I’ve done a poor job seeking new blogs to fill the void.
Creating blogging relationships is tiring stuff. First and foremost, the writing has to be excellent. And the subject matter needs to be interesting. And I hope to find a blogger who wants to read my blog as well. But most importantly, when I comment, the blogger needs to respond. Commenting takes courage. You put a piece of yourself out on display. When I get no response, I’m left feeling embarrassed… wishing I could delete my comment… which I can’t… because commenting on WordPress is final.
So I’m caught flat-footed. Wishing I had more blogging friends to while away the blocks of time my new chauffeuring duties have created. As I work to rebuild my WordPress Reader, maybe you can offer me a shortcut. Which blogs do you find the most satisfying to read.