“Be Excellent to Yourself Dude”

UnknownIt’s a line from the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Also a message in a bottle, found among Hurricane Sandy debris on Long Island. imagesTurns out the bottle had been launched by Sidonie Fery, who’d died in 2010 at 18, falling from a cliff in Switzerland. The Long Island town has erected a memorial plaque quoting the message.

And I’m quoting it because it sort of captures why I’ve been blogging for over five years and writing hundreds of posts. While I do seem to have some fans, it’s not making me a star or shaking the world. But I do it to please myself. And because I’m tough to please when it comes to the written word, I have to be excellent. I wouldn’t bother if I were not striving to maintain a high standard that satisfies my most discriminating reader – me.

So I don’t just whip off my blog posts, a lot of thought and work goes into them. I enjoy doing it. And it reflects my lifelong project of trying to understand the world. You can actually slide through life without that; yet I find it enormously enriches mine. It makes me the rational optimist of this blog’s title. I’ve written before of my “ideology of reality” — basing beliefs on the realities I’ve come to understand, rather than the opposite of beliefs molding perceptions of reality. Too many people operate the latter way, and I often wonder what planet they imagine they’re living on. Orienting readers to Planet Earth is a chief mission of this blog.

Now another word about the blogosphere. You may notice I have around 1000 followers. This is misleading. My followership started to balloon in May when WordPress featured one of my posts. I checked out one of my new followers’ own blogs. Didn’t seem especially intriguing, yet it had a slew of comments. And practically every comment said: “Thanks for following my blog!”

images-2Reminds me of when, years back, I somehow got on a mailing list about mailing lists, a window into a whole mail-order subculture. I actually run a mail-order business myself and sell plenty. But this subculture instead seemed to be all about mailing lists and how to parlay them to supposedly make money, from people who’d also be encouraged to imagine they could profit the same way. Seemed like a giant chain letter but with no payoff at the end; nobody ever seemed interested in actually trying to sell anything other than pamphlets telling how to make money selling such pamphlets. Maybe the only money being made was by the Postal Service.

So similarly, it seems there’s a whole universe of bloggers who sign up as followers on other blogs just hoping thereby to get traffic for their own. images-3Perhaps based on Yogi Berra’s dictum: “You can’t expect people to show up for your funeral if you don’t go to theirs.”

But, again, I‘m not doing this to get a lot of followers (or funeral attendees). I do it out of my deep love of language and enjoyment working with language, as well as to express my understandings about the world, shaped over decades of reading and thought.

images-1So while I blog mainly to “be excellent” to myself, I am also gratified that some people, at least, find something here of value to them. If you are one of them, please feel free to express your appreciation. I am very fond of little pictures of men like Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton; a special favorite is Jackson. My mailing address is Box 8600, Albany, NY 12208.

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4 Responses to ““Be Excellent to Yourself Dude””

  1. Gregg Millett Says:

    Some significant appreciation from your “pinko” follower. Indeed, “reality,” what a puzzle. Each of us lives in some degree of culturally determined hypnotic state and also our individual experiences and DNA — Halleluiah and give me another pill please — and we are collectively on a giant tech movement to change reality and a material-accumulation movement too. I happen to be pretty optimistic about the tech movement and, also, give me another “hit” please.

  2. Michael Ball Says:

    I cut the little Jackson picture out of the piece of paper I found it on. I’ll send it to you. Thankfully the gas station still was able to take the rest of that piece of paper. Glad to hear you like little pictures of Jackson. Even happier that you write this blog. Thanks for letting me follow you!

  3. rationaloptimist Says:

    Gregg — understanding reality does not preclude changing it; that’s what we humans do.
    Michael — I will treasure the little Jackson picture.

  4. wolfgang Says:

    re: “Orienting readers to Planet Earth is a chief mission of this blog.”
    I have to say “Good Luck with that”. I have had dealings with several “people of faith” and no matter what you say, they always seem to be able to bend the truth in their direction just enough to justify their beliefs. It’s as if their lives depended on it (or maybe their deaths?) BTW, you know that if you can get everyone to send you about 1/8″ of a Ben Franklin, you could paste 48 of those together to get a whole? It will take a bit of coordination however….

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