Notes from the Clearing

[Above “homage to Miller’s Crossing” also represents a tip of the hat to Froog.]

So it’s been a year now: 365 days, 309 published posts [Editor’s note: 310, or have you forgotten that you wrote this one yesterday?], 1,295 comments (counting my own replies to comments, and occasional replies to those replies).

When I started Running After My Hat — the blog, not the activity for which the blog is named — I didn’t know, really, what it would turn out to be. I had a few ideas for “practical” goals, (almost?) none of which materialized, and one idea for… well, call it a spiritual goal.

I started my first blog in late 1999; it didn’t last long. (You can see a snapshot of it here, courtesy of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.) Since then I’ve worked on maybe a half-dozen others, some as the only contributor and some as a co-blogger. Without exception, I think, they’ve all been single-topic blogs: about politics, writing, or technology; blogs I’ve been paid to develop for someone else’s purposes; even a blog — currently open to just my siblings and me — for recording family memories we want not to be lost to the next generation.

Only RAMH, though, has worked out to be something like I really wanted to do. Like the creators of the Seinfeld TV show famously insisted about their product, RAMH is pretty much about nothing, at least nothing in particular, and so it’s turned out pretty much to my liking.

One of my favorite Web watering holes is the here often-touted Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast site. (Oddly, or so I keep insisting, even though 7-Imp‘s nominal topic — children’s literature, and especially illustrated children’s literature — even though this is a topic I know little about, nor spend much time following otherwise, I’ve found myself really at home there.) Not incidentally, in their blogroll you’ll find a link to RAMH; if you hover your mouse over that link, you’ll see one of the nicest and most unexpected comments anyone has made about this blog:

John E. Simpson shows us that “a man could, if he felt rightly in the matter, run after his hat with the manliest ardour and the most sacred joy.”

As it happens, they got that embedded quote from a page here at RAMH. I’d challenge the “manliest” and the “most sacred” seasonings in that clause, but will happily accept the ardour and joy side dishes. Throw in a bit of labour (especially of love) and the ridiculousness of pursuing one’s hat in the first place, and I’ll be satisfied indeed.

To wrap up this look back, and in connection with the section of this post which follows, I’ll offer these five as among my favorite posts of Running After My Hat‘s first year, for specific reasons best known to myself:

Finally, thanks, as ever — for things understood, and for things neither she nor the rest of you may ever pick up on — to The Missus. She’s indulged me a lot as I’ve tried to grow and maintain RAMH this first year.

Kate Lord Brown, of the singular What Kate Did Next blog, has graced RAMH by passing along something called the Noblesse Oblige Award, the badge for which now appears here in the right sidebar. Here’s the award’s description:

The recipient of this award is recognised for the following:

1) The Blogger manifests exemplary attitude, respecting the nuances that pervade different cultures and beliefs.
2) The Blog contents inspire; it strives to encourage and offers solutions.
3) There is a clear purpose at the Blog: one that fosters a better understanding on Social, Political, Economic, the Arts, Culture and Sciences and Beliefs.
4) The Blog is refreshing and creative.
5) The Blogger promotes friendship and positive thinking.

The Blogger who receives this award will need to perform the following steps:

1) Create a Post with a mention and link to the person who presented the Noblesse Oblige Award.
2) Display the Award Conditions at the Post.
3) Write a short article about what the Blog has thus far achieved — preferably citing one or more older posts to support.
4) Present the Noblesse Oblige Award in concurrence with the Award conditions.
5) Display the Award at any location at the Blog.

As I mentioned in an addendum to a post the other day, after first learning about the award:

If you strip away some of the trappings of the aristocratic society in which the phrase was first used, the French phrase noblesse oblige means, roughly, a sense in someone in a place of privilege that s/he has an obligation to those who don’t have the same privilege. Which is as nice a description as I can imagine of what a blogger (or a writer in general) aspires to.

How could I not be flattered, then, to get such a thing from a blogger I’d offer it to myself, if given a chance?

And yes, it’s understood that recipients of this Nobless Oblige Award will pass it along to deserving others. As far as I’m concerned, the following folks are qualified to display the badge regardless of whether they meet the formal criteria or not. (I’ve passed over others who have to my knowledge already gotten it.)

My first nominees would be the same five I passed the last torch to, a few months ago. Besides the superiority of their scribbling, I value their blogs for demonstrating exactly the spirit of this current award.

In addition, I’d like to mention these others whose sites, if you haven’t already stopped to visit, might be worth more than a few mere drive-bys:

Not a single one of them needs to do what they do when they set fingers to keyboard for a fresh blog post (often, or all too infrequently, as the case may be). But I’m confident that few who visit them regularly come away untouched by the experience. If that ain’t noblesse oblige in action, there ain’t no such thing as noblesse oblige.

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  1. Ah, a milestone. So comfortable to settle into a blog that finally fits so well, isn’t it? After many blog attempts, I too, have finally find one that is an extension of a part of me I didn’t know existed. As for the award, I thank you, but am scratching my head. Will be quite the challenge trying to ferret out what my blog has thus far achieved. Thought of it as the one area where I wasn’t trying to achieve anything. Research will therefore need to be in order. But again, thank you for your generosity in thinking of a lowly rodent for an award associated with aristocracy.

  2. Congratulations on the year! And good choices of places to go, too (of course). May we all keep scribbling away.

  3. Squirrel: You will note that I, too, basically said above — in many more words — that I have no idea “what my blog has thus far achieved.” Please don’t expend too much energy researching something which (while obvious to your regular visitors) is at root ineffable.

    Oh, and lowly is as lowly does.

    marta: Thank you! (As I’ve mentioned before, your comments early on helped convince me I was reaching somebody.)

  4. Happly Blogoversary John – long may you keep running, the hat tantalisingly almost in reach :)

  5. Kate: The hat, the damned hat… (Thanks again!)

  6. John, you and your site are like an oasis in the desert. I adore your writing and wit, but mostly, I adore your take on life.

    I am so happy you share your talent with us and your joy of life.

    Thank you, my friend.

  7. Congratulations!

  8. Wow. You sure are an accomplished blogger. I pale in comparision. But, that is why I enjoy coming round. So much to learn.

  9. Happy anniversary! And here I came to just visit and read, and I see a nice hat tip to 7-Imp. It’s nice when someone appreciates little details like that (your blog’s description, which is in an alt tag roll-over position of sorts). We detail-oriented people of the world like that.

    I’m with the other Julie: I also adore your writing. The ardour. The joy. Oh, and the gargoyles.

  10. Sorry I missed this earlier. I usually only stop by once or twice a week.

    A belated happy anniversary.

  11. All: Many (quite belated) thanks. Announcing an anniversary can be a bit tricky — Fishing for congrats, are we? But I finally figured, heck — if I’m going to blog about bits of everyday life, why not include anniversaries and such, too?

    Jules: That last afterthoughty sentence is so characteristic of your voice it cracked me right up. :)

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