Today marks eleven years since I started writing here at mattgemmell.com. I’d like to thank you for reading my words.
I run hot and cold – or at least, that’s what my grandmother always used to tell me.
What she meant was that at any given moment, I either absolutely love something, or absolutely hate it, with little room for anything in between. As always, she was right.
I had an average childhood. So did you. Because that’s how it works, isn’t it?
Whatever you grew up with, by definition, was ordinary. It takes years for awareness to set in, when you start to realise that maybe some parts of your experience differed from the average. It takes years more until you get enough perspective to see things objectively.
Let me tell you a little bit about my ordinary.
In February this year, I introduced a membership option for this site. Membership is a way for you to support my writing here at mattgemmell.com, to ensure I can continue to create interesting content (including fiction and non-fiction books) for you to enjoy, and also get some rewards in the process.
I had no idea at all if a membership system would work, if my site was suitable for that sort of support option, or if any of my readers would be interested. Now that we’re five months in, I’d like to briefly talk about my experiences so far.
Whenever someone passes away, we soon learn just how valued, admired, and loved they were.
Tributes flow in. Warm anecdotes, recollections of kindnesses, and sharing of the wisdom of the deceased. Our lament is sharpened by honouring the one we’ve lost.
It’s a good thing, for the most part. Celebrating the positives and downplaying anything else, because it’s the decent and respectful thing to do. Speak no ill of the dead, lest… well, what? It’s impolite? They might somehow take vengeance? Or you just might join them sooner than you expect, so there but for the grace, and so forth.
At the very least, it’s common courtesy – it’s not like they’re still around to defend themselves against any insult, nor to benefit from the praise. And there’s the problem.
Want to lose some weight, but don’t really know how to start? A couple of years ago, I was in the same position. I was mostly sedentary, my waist measurement was creeping up steadily, and I didn’t feel very confident about my body being on display when I went on holiday.
Your definition of what’s really important changes over time. The bare minimum set of people, stuff, and parts of the environment that you cannot be without. The baseline for you to be comfortable, or perhaps for you to even function.
You might not think about it often, but travelling brings it into sharp focus. The sudden need to decant your life into a couple of bags, complete with a weight limit. The paring-down process happens pretty quickly. What’s really, truly vital?
When I was seven or eight years old, the answer to that question was easy: Ghostbusters.
When I buy a laptop, my main concern is portability. That’s been true for years now, but the reason has changed.
I used to be a software developer, and my computer use was split between my desktop machine (a big iMac with the maximum amount of RAM, upgraded processor, extra display, and all kinds of attached gadgets), and my “evening or travel” machine. I didn’t code, or design, on the evening machine if I could possibly help it – and since I work from home, the big desktop was always within reach.
Things changed overnight when I quit my career.
I hear that a lot. In some thankfully-rare weeks, I hear it almost daily.
Not from another person, but rather from inside my own head. The tone is conciliatory; even a little fatherly. It talks me down.
I was born on this day, thirty-six years ago – which means that, traditionally, I’ve already had about half of my life.
Whether that turns out to be true or not, this seems like a milestone worthy of briefly marking. It certainly makes me pause and reflect.