It was Sartre, I think (I may of course be mistaken here) who wrote a famous essay on the topic, ‘why write?’ Lest I be accused of plagiarism or, possibly worse under the circumstances, complete literary ignorance, or overweening vanity and self-delusion, let me immediately re-title this modest blog as, more honestly, ‘why do I write?’ And, more specifically, why do I write this blog – why did I start writing this blog, a little over a year ago and why am I, less regularly than I would like but still with some persistence, writing it now?
Well, if you were holding your breath for ‘the answer’ you would be well advised to let it out again. I’m not entirely sure. I have ideas of course, thoughts on the matter – I write because I like to, because it’s one way of keeping in touch with some of my friends and colleagues and family, because it’s a way of sharing some of my thoughts and impressions about all sorts of things, and airing my views – which I guess are an odd mix of liberal, social democrat, anarchical and cranky old middle-aged conservative, with a small, moderate ‘c’ – on matters social, historical, and political.
I started  this blog a year ago with the thought that it would be a meditation on life beyond 56; life as a new beginning; life as future not past, memory as part of one’s character and make-up and moral fibre but not, please god, as spiritual prison or unreflecting destiny. Some of this blogging has been about ‘that kind of thing’ – taking stock, summing up, looking back, peering upward and forward into skies full of sunlight and cloud and changing light. And of course, the darkness at the end. But much of this blog has been rather more mundane: less meditation than mastication, chewing the cud of life’s everyday events, impressions, storms-in-a-tea-cup, and of course it’s many pleasures and joys and satisfactions, simple or profound.
Perhaps, then, my loftier aspirations – the philosopher on his Stone, the monk in his peaceful cell (‘I balanced all, brought all to mind/In balance with this life, this death’: WB Yeats – at least as I recall ‘Death of an Irish Airman’ from student days, a lifetime ago) – have slowly settled to earth, and this blog is just the online musing of a middle-aged guy, getting on with life somehow.
But that, perhaps, is the point. Life is what happens while you are busy with other things, John Lennon was supposed to have said – and life, rather than philosophical intentions, is what seems to have been oozing through the cracks of this writing. A good thing, I say – that, and the writing itself, the use of the writerly brain, the use, I should add, finally, of the English language.