July 26, 2007

Out of sight, but not completely out of mind

It's the first day of a four-week vacation I've been looking forward to for months now. Time to unwind from the stress of the office, and to do a few of the things I don't get around to in the nine-to-five grind (nine to six, in my case). And although I plan to distance myself from my everyday routine, and my everyday state of mind, I don't plan to "escape."

What do I mean by that?

A few years back, when I was working somewhere else, a colleague of mine came back from a multi-week vacation. I asked him how it had been. "Wonderful," he said, "I didn't think about this place for one second." At the time, this sounded just fine to me. But now I think this typifies a psychopathology of our times.

Indeed, I plan to allow myself to let thoughts of work slide for a few days, maybe even a week or two. I'm lucky enough to have the kind of job that I don't have to stay in contact with the office even when I'm on holiday. I'm a corporate editor. I'm either there to edit or I'm not. So I don't have to think about the office. But I also don't plan to blank it out, like it's some kind of bad dream I'd rather forget.

Eventually, during some of my more reflective moments, I plan to think about my workplace. "On vacation?" you say, "Are you nuts?"

I've had a change of attitude in recent years. Most of my life I made a sharp division between my work -- the place where I made the money I need -- and my "real" life (friends, family, intellectual and artistic pursuits, mystical studies). But the job I have now was the result of intense visualization, and part of the way I got the job involved a prescient dream, and a coincidental (read: synchronistic) conversation with a casual acquaintance. This job was fate. Now I realize that most, if not all, of my previous jobs had been fate, too. Now I pay more attention to what happens at work. I do my best to apply myself to the work. Not out of ambition, but out of a sense that it is a path of growth and development. I pay more attention to the relationships I develop with people in the office. In general, I try to be as aware and conscious as possible at work, and about work.

But things go wrong, and I recognize repeated patterns that have hindered and hurt me in the past. Now I meditate on problems and challenges I have at work and visualize the things I desire to manifest in my work world. But that can be very hard when you are in the thick of it.

Now that I'm on vacation, I plan to take some time to think about work, and to visualize the solutions to problems that have plagued me. In proportion to the rest of my vacation, it will be a tiny fraction of the time. But with that little bit of investment, I will be better prepared to return to the office, and I will have set energies in motion that will aid me in mastering the situation once I've returned.

July 22, 2007

The Parliament-opening Speech You'll Never Hear a Prime Minister Give

(Though We Can Always Hope and Pray)

The Speaker of Parliament brought the gavel down on her desk with three sharp raps. The buzz of excited conversation and frenetic motion throughout the chamber subsided just a little bit. She gave three more raps of the gavel and pleaded, "Ladies and Gentlemen. Please come to order!" The commotion eased just a few more degrees, but the Speaker smiled and barely shook her head. She understood their anticipation. It had been almost two decades since the opening session of Parliament of the little republic of Yugoromanihungavania was viewed as anything other than routine, at best, or a despicable overture to an orgy of corruption and demagoguery, at worst.

But now almost every member of this chamber, every citizen who'd waited in long queues to watch from the balcony, all the powerful figures and diplomats crowded into the VIP section, and the record number of viewers watching the otherwise unpopular Parliament channel on television knew that this session would be different. And that difference was that for the first time in almost two decades, the majority of these people felt hope that something good would be achieved. And those who did not have hope at least believed that something significant would happen. And even that, in a way, was some sort of hope.

After indulging the crowd for just a few moments longer, she stood up and hammered out a flurry of gavel raps, before she called out. "All rise! We will now be addressed by our new head of government: The Right Honorable Prime Minister Manfred Weiser!"

A roar arose which was not confined to this chamber. Heart-felt cheering filled the plaza in front of the building, in adjoining streets, and even in pubs and restaurants where people had gathered to watch this event together.

Manfred Weiser arose from his seat in the front row of benches, and slowly made his way to the podium, shaking many hands and accepting many kisses on the cheeks as he went, and the volume of the cheering remained constant throughout. Everyone, with the exception of the nationalists on the far right of the chamber and the Bolsheviks on the far left of the chamber, were on their feet applauding.

The ascent to power of Manfred Weiser had taken all parties by surprise, even his own.

He had grown up in a tiny rural village, far from the capital, the son of two factory workers. At the time of his birth, most people in his village worked for the radio factory, which turned out products whose designs where outdated by anywhere from ten to thirty years in the West, but it provided a decent living for all of it's employees. Manfred spent many a happy summer in the factory's vacation hotel in the mountains.

The Catholic priest took notice of Manfred's precociousness, and took it upon himself to supplement his education by offering him selected books of theology, philosophy, world literature, and whatever else seemed to be seed that would take in his fertile mind. Manfred and the priest spent many hours together working in the church's gardens, and talking about the things Manfred read.

But it wasn't only his intellect that had attracted the priest's attention. Manfred had an amazingly good heart, and it was his nature to be kind to everyone. But never for the sake of his own gain. That was just the way Manfred was.

He briefly flirted with the idea of becoming a priest, to emulate his mentor, but that changed when the year of his graduation from grammar school coincided with the year the Soviet Union allowed Central Europe to slip from it's iron grasp. He told the priest that he had changed his mind, and would begin working in the factory. The priest was horrified, but Manfred assured him that he would pursue a higher education in a few years' time. "It's all part of my plan," he said. That was the first time he referred to "the plan." Indeed, he rarely mentioned it to anyone, except for his closest associates. But there was a plan.

During the two years he worked at the factory, he learned everything he could about the factory, the workers, their managers, and the relationship between the factory and the surrounding villages. He was universally liked by everyone he had contact with, including his bosses.

He left the factory when he was accepted to study at the University's law faculty. After he graduated Magna Cum Laude, he got a job working under the in-house counsel of a Japanese electronics company. His boss noted that Manfred had the rare ability to communicate with everyone, win their trust, and get them to cooperate with each other. When he finally passed his bar exam, there was another synchronicity: The radio factory in his hometown, which had been struggling along for years, was going to be privatised. The in-house council did not understand at all why Manfred turned down a promotion and a salary increase, especially since the reason was so he could return to his home town.

Manfred put himself at the service of the community, and of the people who worked at the factory. All through the privatisation negotiations he represented their interests, but in a uniquely non-confrontational manner. The new owners, who planned to manufacture computer monitors in the factory, agreed to vast retraining programs, and investment in the community's environment and cultural life. Once the factory was running under new management, Manfred became legal council to the labor union.

And that's when people began encouraging him to run for parliament. This, he said, had not been in the plan. But it soon became clear to the socialist party that he was the most popular candidate anyone could nominate. He did not think it over too long. He told his friends "it wasn't in the plan at first, but it is now."

In parliament he quickly gained a reputation for integrity, honesty, and a certain kind of charisma. On the few occasions that he spoke during his first year, he did not say much, but whatever he said often had an affect on the debate. "Whatever comes out of Manfred's mouth, " said a member from the Christian Democrats, "even if you don't agree with it, you know it comes from his heart. I can't think of one occasion on which I doubted the truth and sincerity of what he said."

Slowly his standing increased, despite the fact that his colleagues thought his candidness would get him in trouble. National polls showed he was the politician people trusted the most. At the next election, the Socialists made him their candidate for Prime Minister.

It was a nasty campaign. The opposition used red-baiting, gay baiting (Why isn't a handsome young man like Manfred married?), anti-Semitism (what kind of foreign name is Weiser, anyway?), and even nastier tactics. Manfred kept a tight rein on his campaign. "Don't attack them, and always tell the truth. If anyone disagrees with this policy, I'm ready to resign. I want to win, but not at any cost."

And the more principled he remained, the more shrill his opponents looked. And the more respect and admiration he gained.

And now he had arrived at the podium, to give his first speech as Prime Minister. The applause continued, and he humbly bowed his head. The speaker pounded the gavel, and Manfred held his hands in the air to signal he was ready to speak.

"Madam speaker, members of this house, I am grateful, I am honored, and I am humbled to be called to serve our country in this way. "

Another raucous round of applause.

"But I could never emphasize enough that governing this land is only possible with the cooperation of everyone in this chamber.

"There are any number of metaphors for what a country is, any number of metaphors for the various parts that make up an integrated unit. But let us say that a country is like a human being. And the political parties are the guiding principles this human being lives by. We all live by many guiding principles, and we must constantly weigh them and balance them against each other in the way we conduct our lives day to day.

"It is the same way with a country. There is no single guiding principle which is more true than the rest. Likewise, no single political party has a monopoly on the truth. Oh! I see my colleagues in my party shaking their heads. Manfred is speaking too boldly again. He's admitting our opponents are right. How are we going to govern that way? I can answer you that. We will govern through cooperation and mutual respect.

"And what are these guiding principles represented by the parties? What truth does each of them insist that the rest of us recognize?"

He pointed at a clique of men seated at the far right of the chamber, dressed in an all-black, stylized version of the national costume. "Let us start with the nationalists. These highly -- their detractors would say hyper -- patriotic individuals are here to remind us that the nation, just like the metaphorical human being, must remain true to it's own nature. It is a travesty to forget who you really are and to pretend to be someone else. These fellows would also remind us that we should not compromise our own national interests due to outside pressure from other countries (or in our metaphor, to be bullied by other people). Can anyone here deny that this is basically true?"

He looked straight at the leader of the nationalists, who frowned, and held his arms tightly across his chest. Manfred continued, "I acknowledge that this is true. However, it does not supersede the fact that our nation is part of a family of nations. And for any family to function, its members must occasionally sacrifice for one another. But it's mutual. If you sacrifice for your brother now, he will sacrifice for you later. Indeed, we sometimes have to insist on defending our genuine interests. But it is not up to our hot heads and our egos to decided what is vital and essential to our welfare. Those are decision for our heart and for our conscience. We all benefit from being members of a strong family. And we must be tolerant and understanding of all the members of our family."

Next he turned his gaze to a larger faction -- the Christian Democrats -- seated to the left of the nationalists. "Then we have the conservatives. They are here to ensure that in our zeal to formulate the best policies we do no throw the baby out with the bathwater. Tradition is a valuable heritage of practices that have been honed and polished over generations. Situations and institutions exist in our society because they work just the way they are. And though we may debate what constitutes the best morals and ethics, we cannot argue that morals and ethics are necessary for a functioning society.

"I acknowledge that all of this is true. But at the same time, we must admit that there are times a particular way of doing things or seeing things is outmoded, and detrimental. And we also must admit that sometimes the only reason people don't want things to change is because they wish to preserve an unfair and unearned advantage they have over others. As St Paul said, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." He didn't say hold onto everything. He said hold on to that which is good. And since Paul thought like a Greek, his idea of what is good, or The Good, was very lofty and spiritual, not just what was convenient and superficially pleasant. Again, the decision as to what is good is up to our heart and our conscience, and not up to our hot heads and our egos. "

And then he made a gesture with his upturned palm at a small faction to the right of the center aisle: the Entrepreneurs' Party. "Capital. Can anyone argue the central role played by capital in the contemporary world? It has been proven very convincingly that often the fastest and most efficient means of achieving a goal is to allow it to be pursued for a profit. The market is a dynamic power that can be used for the benefit of society. Capital has wrought some nearly miraculous accomplishments that all of us benefit from. And for that reason alone, the genuine interests of capital deserve to be represented in this body. But, ladies and gentlemen, let us never get our priorities askew. There are rights with higher priority than the rights of business to make profits. Occasionally lines must be drawn and business must be firmly informed that there are matters of culture, personal relationships, spiritual pursuits, family, and others that simply are not to be commercialized. There are plenty of ways to make money left in this world. Do not be greedy! And do not try to convince us that the market can solve all problems, because it cannot. You have your place among us, but know where that place is."

After a short pause, during which the Entrepreneurs shifted uneasily as Manfred watched, he turned to face just left of the center aisle, to a group of men and women in more English-styled clothing. More course wool, and waistcoats. More facial hair and wire-rimmed glasses. Some of them looked like professors or artists, and that's because they were, or had been professors and artists. He nodded and smiled to their leader, who had once remarked, " the fact that you carry leather bound volumes of Plato and Marcus Aurelius in your briefcase tells me everything I need to know about you." To which Weiser replied, "Your deductions are absolutely on the mark."

"Our friends, the liberals. Guardians of the each man's or woman's right to make up his mind for himself, and to choose one's own course of action in life. And since each person must decide the truth for himself, the liberals are the torchbearers of tolerance. But freedom to choose is not an end in itself! You must always warn your supporters that society and authority will only grant this right as long as those it entitles do their best to cultivate a high degree of discretion and responsibility when exercising it. If we waste our freedom on frivolous and immoral passtimes, we risk losing that right, and that would be a great loss. Bear that torch with all the courage you can muster! It is not only your intellectual friends who would suffer its loss, but all of us."

With a broad smile and a little chuckle, he regarded his own party, the Social Democrats. A wave of nervous laughter went through their ranks, since they knew how unpredictable Mr Weiser could be. How would he take his own party to task? "Ah, my comrades in arms! A socialist knows that society needs to be reformed, that progressive steps must be made. Imbalances must be corrected, and the less fortunate need to be compensated. Many things must be forced through for the common good.

"But what a socialist often has difficulty with is understanding that the average person thinks government is good when it leaves him and his life alone.

Furthermore, socialist must never forget the lessons of the 20th century. It is shear arrogance to assume that any person or group can "scientifically" or empirically determine all the needs of the human race and design a program to fulfill them. God and that spark of God within us, called the Soul, makes this universe and our own natures very mysterious and profound. As Hamlet said to his friend: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Finally, Manfred turned all the way to his left to regard the handful of members from the radical Workers' Party. They wore very plain clothing, which each had accented with something scarlet red: a handkerchief, a tie, a shirt. One was even wearing a plain red armband, since the government had banned the public display of communist symbols several years before.

"The radicals are the embodiment of the youthful will to action. Sometimes we need to stop endlessly talking about what to do, and start doing something! A demonstration and some civil disobedience gets people's attention. It time to stop being polite and to make some people uncomfortable. Something needs to be done now!

"But if you use radical approaches all the time, it becomes a predictable part of the background, and people stop paying attention. And, of course, there is always the danger that the methods become seen as an end in themselves. The aim is lost in the excitement of the confrontation."

Prime Minister Weiser swept his hand in front of him to indicate the entire house. "Each and every one of these ideals has its own aspect of truth. But each idea becomes of greater or lesser importance, depending on the needs of the times."

Our nation has been drifting for a long time because it has been nearly impossible to get a consensus in these chambers. But now I ask you all to deeply consider the roles you play in these debates. I hope I have convinced you that we all deserve to be in this house. And I will only be able to govern with the help of all of you. Each party, each faction, each member has only an aspect of the whole truth. I will not only listen to the advice of my ministers and the parties of my governing coalition. I will listen to every one of you, if you feel like you need to tell me something.

Together let us lead this nation wisely!"

The applause went on for minutes.

And the government program devised by Manfred's party was a success. In a way nobody had ever seen before, he convinced members of all parties to work together to formulate policies the benefited all parties.

Two years later, Manfred Weiser was assassinated while vacationing at his mountain house in the hills. It was a national tragedy which united the country. Investigations determined his assassination was organized by a bizarre collaboration between the nationalists and the Workers' Party.

Even in death, Manfred Wiser managed to inspire cooperation between otherwise hostile parties.

July 12, 2007

Virtually Gathering Around the Digital Camp Fire

(or: What Exceedingly Strange But Wondrous Things These 21st Century Relationships Are)

I just recently read a very interesting novel by the German writer Thommie Bayer. What struck me after getting about forty or so pages into Singvogel (sorry folks, only available in German) is that the vast majority of the "action" in this novel takes place as the first-person narrator is sitting at the computer all alone in his writing studio (he's a screenwriter). We hear the narrator's internal monologue while he's reading and answering e-mails (we also get to read the e-mails), doing research on the Internet, and while he's working. One could easily imagine that reading about a guy sitting at his computer would be dull. But whats' surprising is that it isn't. An incredible number of things "happen" while he electronically communicates with friends in various cities, and with his wife who commutes to another city.

But it gets better. He gets an unsolicited e-mail from a woman who's seen a film he wrote. A lively and intimate correspondence begins. But wait! It gets even more complex: he starts getting e-mails from the woman's jealous boyfriend. And as I read about this dynamic, unpredictable, and very engaging life getting played out on the Internet, the realization hit me: Oh my God! This really is what 21st century life is like!

Well, at least for some of us. But that "some of us" is actually quite a few of us. Those legions of men and women who go to an office and work in front of the ubiquitous "one-eyed monster" all day. And even the ones who stay home have unlimited, always-on, broadband now.

If there is one thing that typifies to me the watershed that came with the dawn of the 21st century, it is the way that social interaction has been transformed by the Internet.

It used to be, going back to prehistoric times, that the way people met people was face to face. At school, in church, at work, at parties, in the neighborhood. But now a surprising number of relationships start on Internet forums, chat rooms, blogs, or some other digital format used on the Internet.

Currently, of all the women who play significant roles as friends in my wife's life, easily 9/10ths of them are women she met in mother/baby forums when she was pregnant. There is a core of them who met on one particular forum topic, realized after a time that they were a compatible group, and formed a private forum of their own. This group has been together for six years now. Since they met on a Hungarian language forum, and they're mostly from Budapest, they began arranging to meet in person. They even have a monthly "women's night" when they get together at someone's house for dinner.

And they forum together daily.

I have a group of friends I met on a forum for Rosicrucian mysticism that I was moderating. After two and a half years, the forum became unstable and politics broke it up. A core group decided it was time to form a private forum. I wonder how often this happens: a core group meets on a public forum and recognise their compatibility, so they form a new, private forum?

My friends are spread across several continents, so we can't meet personally, like my wife's pals. But we're still close. We know a lot about each other, and we've gone through many experiences together. We often mention how odd it is that we feel as close or closer to one another as we do to the people (colleagues, for instance) we see physically every day.

Watching what my wife's forum does has led me to the conclusion that forums are sort of a "feminine" mode of communication. It's all about networking and the group. Her forum doesn't even really bother with lots of topics and threads. They just write everything into the same thread and share everything with each other. It's as if they were all sitting in the same room and knitting or spinning wool and having a conversation as a group.

The implications for how the organisation of society will change are staggering. It's (at the risk of being cliche) revolutionary. The ways people have met one another since time immemorial are no longer the rule. The way relationships develop over time is also new. And the nature of the groups we organise ourselves into are new, as well. Welcome to the Aquarian age.

This doesn't mean that traditional relationships are suddenly obsolete. The typewriter didn't make the pen obsolete. It's a new layer of our society. And one that permeates through old boundaries. Forums can be totally international, cutting across all sorts of boundaries of class, race, religion and education. But we will always need the people who are physically near us and will always long to physically meet some of the people we have met through the Internet.

I'll wrap up with an anecdote. My wife was contacted by a woman whom someone had recommended to read my wife's blog, because my wife writes a lot about being the parent of children who go to Waldorf school. This woman asked if she could publish some of my wife's postings as articles in the newsletter she edits for the Waldorf school her son goes to. We met (face to face) through a home-birth associated gathering (our children and their daughter were born at home) and later at a Waldorf-associated gathering. Last week we were invited to visit them at their house on the Hungarian "great plain".

We drove south of Budapest onto the puszta, the famous Hungarian great plain that separates the rest of Europe from the "Balkans". Though I've driven across the great plain many times, this was the first chance I'd ever had to stay there. We spent two nights at the farmhouse of these friends we'd met through the Internet. Saturday morning I went jogging, and it was wonderful. The soil there is almost pure sand, so jogging on the dirt roads is like jogging on the beach. Where there is forest, it's scrubby and thin, and where there is no forest, it's all tough stringy plants that can take sun and dry heat. It reminded me of California's Sacramento Valley, actually. And the stars at night! We were vast distances from any city lights. I don't remember the last time I saw the Milky Way from horizon to horizon. And the stars have colors! I'd forgotten that.

We spent time cooking and enjoying good meals together, and our children played together doing the sorts of things they don't have the opportunity to do in the city.

We've invited them to come visit us in Budapest.

It all started on the Internet, but it's developed into a real flesh-and-blood relationship between people who can look one another in the eyes, clasp one another's hands, share a satisfying meal. But I can guarantee you we never would have met one another ten years ago. And I never would have had the same opportunity to learn the bit of practical geography that came with that visit.

Amazing, this medium. And the transformation is only really beginning.

July 10, 2007

The True, the Beautiful and the Good

So, we've established that I have the itch to get serious about writing again. And we've established that I'm a bit leery of the confessional nature of blogs, having learned what it's like to talk about your life in even a very small general-circulation publication.

But if not confession, or criticism, or journalism, what do I write?


This isn't a spontaneous decision. We have to go back several years to 2003, when I decided to seriously take up the study of Rosicrucianism again. One of the odd effects of that decision was that as I became more and more immersed in the study and practice of mysticism, the less I was interested in the literary pursuits (reading and writing fiction) that had been the mainstay of my intellectual life for two decades. "But why," I asked myself, "have I spent so much of my life perfecting my ability to express myself in words?" You see, I believe that life is a series of lessons, and that the path one follows in life eventually leads somewhere, although we are not necessarily conscious of that path, and only recognise the inherent pattern (if we're lucky) in retrospect.

So, if I've cultivated the craft of the wordsmith, and I no longer have the fire in my gut to become the next J. D Salinger (or even Tom Robbins), then what do I write?

The urge to dip into philosophical writing hit me nearly a decade ago, and I produced a series of aphoristic essays called The Book of Acquired Wisdom. I enjoyed the exercise, and it whet my appetite for more such explorations.

So that will, loosely defined, be my focus in this blog. I shall explore philosophy.

To start off on solid footing, I suppose I should make clear what I mean by the word philosophy. I'll state unambiguously, that I am not a "professional" philosopher. I've read some in the pre-Socratics, and I've read some Plato. I've puzzled over how Aristotle was a logical conclusion to Plato. I've read Lucretius and Marcus Aurelius. I've pondered over Thoreau, and I've even dabbled in a bit of Nietzsche. But I know little to nothing about most of the modern European philosophers (you know: Descartes, Voltaire, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Fichte, Shopenhauer, Hegel, etc.), beyond the odd quote here, the quick synopsis there.

But I don't think that's any reason why I can't philosophize. Because to me, philosophy is exactly what the word originally meant in Greek: a love of wisdom. Wisdom can only be found one way. Wisdom arises in the heart after one has honestly reflected on one's experience. External experience and internal experience. Experience with love, friendship and family. Experience with trying to make a living and pursue a calling. Experience with study and exchanging ideas with fellow scholars. Experience at trying to understand the workings of the physical world, and mastering the technologies our race has created to exploit it. Experience with living in this mortal body, and feeling and watching it change with the passage of time. Experience with trying to do good in the world, and to contribute to the greater good. Experience with the joys and difficulties of living in human society, in which we must endure the ignorance of our fellow man as often as we have the pleasure of our contemporaries' refinements. If you truly and carefully reflect on these things, wisdom will arise in your heart. You will begin to discern what is the True, what is the Beautiful, and what is the Good. And by some small measure, you may call yourself a philosopher.

July 8, 2007

A Long Time Coming

I've been resisting this for a long time. People have been telling me for years, "You're a writer. So you should be writing a blog." Well, yes, I can appreciate that this is the medium du jour nowadays for the written word. I realize this is the publishing venue that puts people out in the public eye now. And I do want to write material for publication (it's been year since I've done it), but... but...

Let's go back to the "old days" (the 1980s) when most of my writing was either scribbling my journal with a pen in a notebook, or composing letters on a typewriter. I did this for years before I ever got ambitious enough to write anything for publication. And at first what got published was very infrequent.

Then came the early nineties, and I was writing on a hand-me-down Zenith computer (double floppy drive!), and the majority of my writing was a weekly book review column for The Budapest Sun. It was an interesting experience having a weekly column in a paper with 20,000 readers. For two years most everyone in the expatriate community knew my name, and I even had the occasion to hear myself talked about at parties. People would stop me and comment on my latest column, telling me if they disagreed with my opinion, or found fault with my arguments, and occasionally praising a job well done.

I observed that one sits down to the keyboard with a distinctly different state of mind when one is just going to noodle around in one's journal, and when one is preparing to write a column. When I wrote the column, there were 20,000 invisible people in the room with me, and it had a profound effect on the way I wrote. Very profound. This was the most important lesson in voice I've ever had: how you write depends on who you think is reading it.

I also observed that the desire to be what one nowadays calls "edgy" made me wax confessional. One colleague of mine at the press agency said he'd never dare write about such personal things as I did, knowing it would be read by so many people. I said that was because he wasn't a writer. In the meantime, I feel like I've become much more private than I was in my early thirties. I'm not so much into the confessional anymore. My wife has been writing a blog for about a year and a half. It's a moderately popular blog, with regular readership of about 200, which is pretty good for a blog written in Hungarian. Our children and I get mentioned regularly. I don't even have to do confessional for myself anymore.

Since my days at The Sun, on the professional level I have written a few freelance articles and columns, but have mostly retired to the business of copy editing (ten years at the Hungarian Press Agency MTI) and in-house corporate editing (name withheld to protect against the litigious). And I've written a handful of short stories (got one published!). Before our home and my life got filled up with a bunch of kids, and before I got a full-time corporate job, I wrote a daily journal for several years. That was my second major lesson in voice: a very different sort of writing comes out when you are writing strictly for yourself.

There's one more consideration. My priorities have changed drastically. My ambitions were very literary when I used to write alot. I took a break from writing for several years, and in the meantime, the focus of my life has become spiritual again. Although I feel the compulsion to write -- and even publish -- again, much of my life centers around internal experiences, and much of what I occupy myself with is esoteric in nature. I'm a bit reluctant to write about some of this stuff. It was one thing to be confessional about more mundane sides of my life, but it's something altogether different to start getting loose-lipped about mysticism. We'll see.

And the other thing I can't get over is what I regard as the ultimate question regarding blogging and bloggers. What makes me think anyone cares?

Okay. For better or worse, I've taken the first step. I have become a blogger. God save my soul.

So, I come late to this medium. And I'm not sure how I feel about it.