Life Among Commas and Semicolons

It has been said that while death is marked by a period or exclamation point, life is lived within a sentence punctuated by commas and semicolons; the length of which we can not know. A period ends the sentence, but a comma indicates a smaller break or a soft pause. The semicolon is a dot hovering over a comma, indicating a more significant pause than a comma; stronger than a small break, but not as divisive as a period.

I’ve enjoyed writing about the punctuation marks of my life for all these years. Things get slower as we age, however, and the commas and semicolons begin to happen for entirely different reasons than before. If you’ve ever wondered how or if you’ve changed over time, just start a blog. It’ll be right there hidden in plain sight.

Blogging experts tell us to be prepared for change. They recommend adopting a generic title for your blog so it can change as you do. (I didn’t get that message eight years ago.) Trends change too. Posts were always meant to be short, concise and easily consumed. Now the trend is the longer the better with video, lots of links, and a catchy 15, 16, maybe 17 word headline. We’re spending more time out of our lives writing and editing these posts than ever before. And if traffic, likes, comments or making money is everything, it could get frustrating. They say you may decide to quit blogging, which is exactly what happens to the vast majority.

If we didn’t already have enough going on in 2020, this was the year I came to blows with this blog. Years of old posts reflect a life I no longer live. And this new life didn’t seem nearly exciting enough to even write about.

In retrospect, this wasn’t the year to expect life would be exciting. Folks everywhere were having to do all sorts of new things, but we’re just a couple of overly-COVID-cautious retirees. Whatever mildly extraordinary things that might have been planned for the year got squashed by the pandemic.

I cut my own hair, we shop for groceries online, we don’t accept dinner invitations from friends. Some of those friends don’t seem to understand and may not forgive us. We haven’t seen family. Haven’t been shopping at our favorite stores. We haven’t set foot in a restaurant since the day after Christmas 2019. We had already stopped going out as often as we once did, but we hadn’t intended that last night out to be our last night out. But it was. It’s the way so many things ended in this year. Unintended.

So I created a new blog, gave it a title and wrote an opening paragraph. I’d archive my previous life and start over.

Then I realized how much of my life would need to be re-introduced to this new blog. Every topic I could imagine writing about somehow linked back to the life on this blog. Whatever I could think to write about has already begun somewhere here, and you can’t just pick up in the middle of a story. Life may have changed, but it’s still the same sentence.

This year has ended for far too many people with a period or exclamation point. For others, maybe a comma is all that will punctuate this year from others. I foresee a more significant pause for myself, and I’ll be different for more reasons than just the pandemic. Suddenly I worry over things that never mattered before, or I don’t worry over things that used to matter a lot. There’s been too much time to evaluate, re-evaluate and to be more introspective than is reasonably comfortable.

But when it was all over and the dust had settled, I realized that I’m happy. It was a watershed moment. I enjoy these things I do differently from years past, and there’s so much yet to explore and learn. I am where I am because of where I’ve been, and my sentence is still being formed. This year will end, hopefully the pandemic will too, and the stories from this year will add to who I have become.

With my husband’s encouragement, I’ve decided not to archive the previous me or start over. The Fartlek is me and will change with me as well; too many topics have begun here. So I’ll see you here next year – somewhere after the semicolon.

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