Monday, February 18, 2013

The Benefits of Pruning

So, my blog has been sorely neglected over the past few years.  Right now it is cluttered with draft posts, links and images in a private Tumbler of ideas.  Sprinkled throughout is the occasional posts, released in a burst of creative energy and prioritization.  However, my blog is mostly neglected as the demands of teaching relegate it to the back burner.

My blog is also competing with the immediacy of social media.  Share a link, or toss up a shortened URL on Twitter, and one quickly receives feedback and commentary from the crowd.  As immediately gratifying as this may be, it doesn't really take the place of blogging, a process that (at its best) forces me to consider multiple sources before assimilating those ideas with my own viewpoints, distilling them to what matters in my particular context, and then writing them down. I don't really blog for the crowd; I do it for me.

Public Domain
And, so, in resurrecting this blog, I've considered the analogy of the Phoenix - that mythical bird with its colorful plumage and a tail of gold and scarlet. The bird that, at the end of its 500 to 1000 year life-cycle, builds itself a nest of twigs that it then ignites; "both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix or phoenix egg arises, reborn anew to live again."  (Wikipedia)  It's tempting to just destroy this blog and start anew, creating a new space from its ashes, but that analogy was not quite what I was looking for.

I've considered, instead, the act of pruning bushes. This seems more apropos to my goals.  The University of Rhode Island offers this Pruning Guide.  "Pruning is a regular part of plant maintenance involving the selective removal of specific plant parts."

CC-BY-SA by Hirvenk├╝rpa
Why prune?  The site goes on to offer these reasons:

1) To improve the appearance or health of a plant.
2) To control the size of a plant.
3) To prevent personal injury or property damage.
4) To train young plants.
5) To influence fruiting and flowering.
6) To rejuvenate old trees and shrubs.

That's what my old blog needs - rejuvenation! I started blogging nearly 7 years ago, and over the years have more clearly focused my ideas and vision as a teacher.  I plan to start by pruning away those previous posts that serve as a distraction to my professional goals.

Then, perhaps, my blog will grow healthier and stronger than before.  Of course, this requires that I actually write.  And teaching tends to fill up my to-do list, leaving little time for much else.  However, it's good to have goals.