Returning.

It’s been so long since I’ve written on this platform regularly. I think about making writing a regular part of my life again just about every day, but an endless list of excuses get in the way. I don’t have time. It’s not productive. I sit front of the computer for work and don’t want to spend any more of my free time staring at a screen.

Yet I’ll scroll through my phone for a collective hour or more a day, consuming other people’s content and sometimes posting my own pretty photos with superficial captions. As more and more time goes by since I’ve made this blog a regular platform for myself, it’s harder and harder to come back to. My disillusionment with social media has been building for the past year and a half to the point where I barely even post there anymore. Something about it seems pointless. Yet it’s a way to document a life that I don’t want to lose to inevitably-fading memories. Every now and then I look through my old posts and wish that I’d spent the last several years detailing my experiences in the same way I used to, back in this blog’s heyday. I keep vowing to return because it’s not too late to start again, but each time I’ve tried the words come out feeling stale and uninspired. Maybe I’ve lost my touch, or maybe I’ve just started caring way too much about outside perceptions rather than inner motives.

Early December: A Raystown Lake paddle & catching up with old friend Jeff.

Maintaining this blog, sharing experiences and engaging with all of you who were regular followers gave me a lot of satisfaction and joy. At some point, that stopped being enough. Somewhere along the way, I started feeling like had nothing of value to share anymore. Working full-time as a writer ruined writing for me in a lot of ways, as I had a nagging feeling it would — the main reason why I ended up switching majors in college from journalism to geography. Though when the opportunity knocked, I had to try. It’s been almost 4 years since I left Dirt Rag but I struggle to write without a purpose. What use does this serve my reader, I ask myself as I stare at the many unfinished beginnings of draft posts I’ve written over the past several years. I scrap another one, close the browser window, and try to forget. I have “better” things to do anyway.

But the desire to write always returns. The more time that passes, the harder it is to get started again. I’ve vowed a number of times to resume writing on here regularly. Sometimes that lasts for one post, sometimes I’ll crank out a few in a row, but then other priorities take over and my art fades into the background of work and life and time actually spent outdoors. The excuses return but none of them are truly valid. If I turned the time I spend looking at social media each day into creating my own work, I’d have posts to share every week, at least. Logically I know this, but of course it is easier to mindlessly consume.

Late fall = muddy gravel.

Earlier this week, while sitting at a favorite vista along one of my favorite trails, looking out onto the sea of lights in Big Valley, my ride companion asked me if I ever still do any writing. I get this question quite a bit and my answer is always a sheepish “not really.” It stings a little every time, not because of the judgements of others, but because of my own potential going unfulfilled before my eyes.

The conversation that ensued gave me some insights, or at least forced me to put words to what I’ve been thinking about for a while. I feel like I don’t have anything interesting to write about anymore. When I first started this blog, I was rediscovering mountain biking and and I hadn’t written about any of it before, so it all felt like a fresh perspective. Now, I struggle to find new ways to write about my life unless I am doing something completely new or particularly difficult, which hasn’t happened in a while.

Ironically, the original premise of this blog was everyday adventure. It was to capture the experiences that aren’t necessarily epic. After all, grand feats can only happen every so often, but getting outside every day is what cumulatively makes a lifestyle, and is what is important to me much more than any single big ride or trip. I don’t know what gradually engrained in me that the everyday adventures would no longer be interesting for people to read, or why I started to care so much, but that’s what happened and here we are.

Mid-November: Stone Valley / Big Valley tour on a drizzly, cloudy, windy day.

I’ve been feeling stagnant lately, going through the motions and doing what I have to do to maintain my existence — my job, my relationships, my fitness — but I don’t feel like I am growing. I like my life but I don’t feel inspired or challenged by it, and that has been weighing on me. Writing has always helped me reflect on and heighten experiences, and I have a hunch that part of the void I feel has been partially caused by lack of reflection. There is something to be gained from every experience but we have to take time to notice. Writing helps me do that.

I don’t have a grand vision of what this blog may become or what role writing will serve in my life going forward, but I know that it’s something that I intentionally want to focus on bringing back into my daily routine. It’s just one of many things I’d like to spend less time thinking about and more time doing. Thanks for following along.

Hushmoney Bikes ride from Lancaster on Black Friday.

5 Replies to “Returning.”

  1. I miss your writing, and I miss you. Sometimes we all wear out and need a break. Think of life as the challenge to make the best of it like this is your last day.

    Charlie Bierbach

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  2. Oh my gosh, this is very much like what happened to me. So many deleted drafts, mainly because I got impatient with all the sit time required. I have done a couple hundred rides since I stopped writing about them. Sadly, once left undocumented, the memories and lessons have gradually faded.
    I was so afraid this post was going to be a final farewell! And so happy to hear it isn’t!

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  3. Welcome back!

    It’s also been tough for me to maintain my blog in the way that I used to. It’s hard to keep on writing about things you’ve probably already written about, but I keep on trying.

    The whole act of blogging has dwindled over the last decade, as the instant gratification of Instagram and the like seem to be “where it’s at”. Why spend hours to days laboring over a post, when you can just post a pretty picture with a couple lines? It doesn’t help that blog interaction keeps on dwindling as well. It used to be that every post I wrote got anywhere from a couple to a dozen comments. Now I can go a month or two without a single comment on a post (though there will still be “likes”, half the time from blogs that seem fake.)

    I mostly keep on blogging for myself. Like you, I want to have some record of my experiences and thoughts that I can look back on. I never have been a journaler or diary-keeper, so the blog has become that. And writing longer pieces about an event or experience helps me clarify my thoughts and feelings in a way that IG can never do.

    I know it’s tough, but hope to see more posts from you, Helen.

    Best,
    Shawn

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  4. Helena, I was glad to see your blog notice return to my inbox. I have been meaning to read it since, and now a second one has landed. Time; it’s usually just a matter of time before we do something we would like to do or intend to do, for example, read an enjoyable blog or article of interest. So many things competing for one’s personal time. I think most readers of similar interest are served well by the insight or experiences of another fellow adventurer. Many times I think; I wish I would take the time to describe my beautiful moments outdoors, but most often never do other than in passing conversation. This right here is probably why your blog resonates too those who read it. So many of us have stories and experiences that are never written down. Keep sharing your art, it really does serve a purpose. Thanks for spending the time to share your words and pictures with kindred spirits.

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