The Little Blog

Once upon a time, and a very good time it was, there was a little blog who danced and played as his fancy took him. No one read him and he was free to be as he chose, wearing what he wanted, singing when he wanted, and talking to the flowers and insects in a language that only they could understand. And they spoke back to him. The oceans and the sky were just milestones in the strange world he inhabited. He had no first name and no last name and it did not make any difference to him.

As time passed, people began to visit his strange world, and they wondered what he was up to. He could sense this wondering, since wondering is always done in the language of rivers and ripening tomatoes. He began to look around to see what other blogs were up to, so that he could also entice his visitors to spend time with him, to come back, and to sing songs to him.

Antoine Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince is the one book that I can read over and over again.

Like the little boy from asteroid B-612, he went visiting other blogs. Some of them celebrating birthday when he visited. He wondered when his birthday was, and decided that he wanted no part of the loud partying that he saw. Some others, older ones, were full of people praising each other and thanking each other, yet it all sounded hollow, as if they were saying it like machines, without even thinking about what they were saying. He skirted the walls to keep away from the splatter of the goodies that were flying all over the place and ran out as fast as he could. He decided he had had enough of social visits.


He went to his valley of thoughts and sat under the meaning tree. The branches dipped low and brushed the hair from over his eyes, and asked him what the matter was. He told the tree that he was wondering whether he was better off being the way he was and whether he would be able to make friends and fit into the world of the popular blogs.

The meaning tree spoke to him in words that only he and the passing clouds could understand. At the end of it he knew that in order for all beings to be happy, he would have to make friends, and in order to make friends, he would have to learn their language. The purpose of his learning their language and making friends would have to be beautiful, pure and eternal. Only then would he be able to share his magical world with them.

So he set out trying to be like other blogs. He took on a name, and he got himself some shiny clothes. He tried to become friends with search engines and he improved his page load time. He again began visiting other blogs and tried to strike up dialogs. Strangely, whenever he joined a discussion, it would end, as if everyone was embarrassed by his coming into their midst. He told himself that it wasn’t so and persisted. He tried to say things that he learned people like to hear, and he tried to say them in ways that people liked.

Slowly people began noticing him, and started speaking with him. He was very happy. He conjured up a first name and a last name, and he conjured up a birthday. He danced with abandon within himself as people said nice things and shared what he had said with others.

One day he woke up and saw that the world around him was different. He did not know when this had happened. All around him were walls of keywords and bounce rates. Despite all the friends he had made and the language he had learned, he felt hollow and perhaps a little sad. The ground beneath his feet felt cold and totally search engine optimized. When he looked up, he could no longer see the clouds or the birds or the sky, but just conversion goals and traffic targets. He made himself two sandwiches and a bottle of nimbu pani and set off to his valley of thoughts.

He reached the meaning tree. It seemed to have grown a little. He wondered how long he had been away and sat down under it. The insects and the clouds flew by. The branches of the tree swung down, glad to see him after so long. He looked around, at the flowers, the branches, and the bumbling bees, and with a start, he realized that he could no longer hear them. The flowers were singing, the bees were bumbling, and the tomatoes were ripening, but he could hear none of it. He looked up at the meaning tree and cried out what was in his heart – that his page was optimized, that his average time on site was good, that he had a nice MozRank, but he still felt empty. The tree understood what he said and replied, but he was not able to hear what the tree was saying.

He put his head in his arms and cried into his sandwiches. The branches of the tree rapped him on the head gently and told him in, this time in words that he could understand, that though the things that were happening to him were truly wonderful, they were of no use if he lost the gift of love and belonging, that they were temporarily gratifying but immaterial in the pursuit of enduring value, and that they pandered to his selfish desires but did nothing to bring peace and healing to a world riddled with conflict and pain. The tree explained that there was nothing wrong with wanting to be popular but if it was done thoughtlessly, then when the winds of change blew hard, he would be uprooted and all that he had built would be of no use.

It was necessary to grow ones roots deep and wide so that it can draw upon that which is truly and completely nourishing, the tree explained. The medicine for institutionalized disregard for mother earth and the children who will inherit it lay in remaining firmly connected to the heart, to develop penetrating insight into the nature of human folly, and to share one’s conviction in every way possible. The tree showed him that optimizing his pages and making new friends were important tools for laying the foundations for healing the world but he had mistaken them for the essence of his being. As he munched on his sandwich, wet and saltier from his tears, he began to see how he had fallen into the trap which he would warn others about. He washed the sandwich down with the nimbu pani and said, “Wish me, it is my birthday today.”

*****

If you liked this, you may also like my post  - You Are Not Alone - A Letter to Poets, Writers and Artists.

*****
 

 

58 comments:

  1. I have been going through these very same emotions. Always wondering if trying to be popular was pulling me away from being natural. You have put forth this evolution of emotion in the form of a truly beautiful story.

    I guess it is not wrong to showcase the best of yourself and camouflage the not so attractive parts. So long as you don't present a fake personality.

    Pouring on fake adulation, in hope that some attention bounces your way, can been so clearly seen through by anyone who matters. It defeats the purpose.

    In the long run, staying true to self and adding value to others are the two things that should drive our actions and our words.

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    1. Thank you so much, Shankari. I have always found fiction difficult, so it was with some amount of hesitation that I wrote and posted this. Your comment made my day. Like you said (here and in your post on the writer's voice), balancing the need for approval and popularity with the need to stay true to your voice is the key.

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  2. what a lovely post..I am feeling these emotions right now. I once had a popular blog and I thought people genuinely liked me..but now I feel lost and confused. Your post has given me the confidence to stay true to my voice and keep writing the way I have always written.

    A very Happy Birthday to your blog :)

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    1. Thank you, Vinita. Lost and confused and your blog don't go together. I think the measure of success must lie in the comfort one feels when one hits the publish button. Everything else is secondary.

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    2. Points to ponder...really...

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  3. What a wonderful essay, Subhorup! I loved the sentiment and the fairy-tale narrative of your message. I am new to the blogging world (just had my 3-month 'birthday'), and the big thing I have noticed so far is that most of what is out there is plain garbage. And yet, look at the incredible amount of mutual and effusive back-patting that goes around! Looks like you've stayed real...I hope I am able to, as well.

    I would love to have you check out my blog some time - http://reekycoleslaw.com/

    PS - I am not sure why you are tepid to fiction (in your response to Shankari's comment). I think you must do much more of it!

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    1. One of the things that drew me to blogging was the huge amount of garbage. It gave me a chance I figured. But after I set out, I found some excellent stuff that I had not come across earlier, and these were the not-so-popular, not-so-bells-and-whistles blogs. If you had not reminded me, I would not have imagined that I have been reading you for a few months. In my mind, it seems like I have been reading you for much longer.

      Tepid to fiction - it just seems so difficult to narrate events and dialogs and thoughts in an interesting way. I feel the masters, from Swift to Vonnegut, have already done all that was there to be done. But I do enjoy giving it a try though.

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  4. It so interesting that you talk about it. Earlier this year I felt that I had written so much and had lost so much of my voice in all that noise I was creating. My need for approval, acknowledgement, and feeling like I NEEDED more people to read what I was saying and be a part of a community came from the place I was at personally but it really helped me come back to my roots, be clear about what I wanted to write about and pursue it -in my own life and through my blog. paralleling what you are saying I suppose. I dont have a following yet, iam not on top anything yet, for now though I am okay with that. Again, for me it reflects where I am at personally as well.

    Happy birthday Jejune Diet!

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    1. I so totally agree about the need coming from where we are personally, and perhaps in some sense, that part of the journey is as essential as any other part. I strongly believe that we go through what we go through because we need to and because, in some mystic way, we want to.

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  5. These are feelings I keep going through all the time, ever since I began blogging over two years ago. Trying to play to the gallery is a very tempting thing, but I have learnt that it is important to be yourself and only talk of what you actually believe in and practice. Hollowness is apparent sooner than later. I don;t have a million followers or a zillion views nor am I popular on social networks with my witticisms. But the friends I have made are all genuine and I am grateful to my blog for that.

    But tell me, why do you call this fiction?

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    1. Part of the playing to the gallery came from my initial efforts to be a "professional blogger," trying to blog for a living. I felt that the world should cling to every word I write and share it till it goes viral. Of course, it took me a while to realize that I would not be able to sustain the "7 steps to a slimmer you" kind of writing. In the process, like Between Life's Doings pointed out, alongside learning about how web traffic and marketing works, I made a lot of empty noise that I now find quite embarrassing. I gratefully acknowledge it today as part of my growing up. Only thing is, they wonder at home, when will this growing up phase get over!?!

      Why I call it fiction really made me sit and wonder a while. After I had cleaned the stove and the milk pan and opened all the doors so that the smell goes away, I realized that it was probably because at the bottom of my heart, even this post was a little bit of playing to the gallery. Self doubt and honesty are like sleeping pills and booze - deadly together.

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  6. A voice that sounds like the voice of a friend I can sit on the grass with and talk to for a few hours, and then return home enriched... Delicate, sensitive, caring, original, and essentially free a voice... Subhorup, it was a great read, and you can confidently venture again in the land of fiction...

    Ummm... one point... entirely my personal opinion... the delicate simplicity of the rest of the piece is somewhat missing in some parts of the last two paragraphs... where advice comes too directly... and in complex sentences... Though the words are of immense importance and HAD to be conveyed, there is a difference in the mood of the opening and concluding paragraphs, which - unless deliberate - could have probably been avoided with a little more care...

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    1. Thank you, Antara, for your wonderful words. I had a bit of trouble closing the piece. I saw that when I wrote it, but couldn't crack it. Deeply appreciate the feedback. Do keep coming back to find out if I get to mastering it in my future posts.

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  7. Well said... however, i din't like the ending statement :-(

    I like happy endings, I guess

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    1. I agree. I thought the ending was happy though!

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  8. I am somewhat dumbstruck after reading this post. It made me smile and also made me sad at the same time. I hope I am not sounding fake. :)

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    1. Akshay, I know exactly what you mean. I felt the same mix of feelings as I was writing this too.

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  9. Hi Subhorup

    What you are saying makes a lot of sense. When I started blogging way back in 2010, I hardly had any readers as I was not part of any network . I kept on writing , just writing what I felt like. Now after developing a network and being in social networking sites, my perspectives are undergoing a change. SOmetimes I do feel a little lost like the boy in your post! Awesome read and loved the message.

    p.S I meant the last line with all my heart :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Jayashree. I have learned a lot in trying to write for a larger and more generalized readership, and today when I look back lot of my earlier work reads very genuine, but appears less effective.

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  10. Wishing your blog a very happy birthday and what a beautiful post to celebrate the moment ...

    and I am glad I came over to your blog one day , I learn a lot each time i read you ..

    Bikram's

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    1. Thanks, Bikramjit. Coming from a wide-ranging thinker like you, this means a lot.

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  11. You wont blv i went through something similar and am at peace now :)
    Will tell sometime in person about it ! :D
    Happy Birthday to your blog! :)!
    A story wonderfully crafted!

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    1. Thanks, Nivedita. I think a getting together is overdue.

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  12. It is a very genuine post which i endorse fully...i would love to be at the top but i just cannot be fake...tell me if you find me sliding towards it.
    Thanks for voicing unsaid sentiments which many of us feel.

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    1. Thanks, Indu. Your blog is a living testimony to what can be achieved by just sticking to your guns.

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    2. Oh well!!Thanks !!

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  13. Enjoyed it, and at one point, had tried to do the same.. I probably did a few of the gimmicks, but at some point, I guess, not for me.. Preferred to be the way I did, adn much more at peace.. Though what you say Sub, is true.. That drive to be seen, to be recognized... kills the best of all..

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    1. The magic is when you stay true to your voice, and popularity finds you. I am sure if I persist, it will happen by itself.

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  14. Very nice. I hope the boy finds the right balance between being popular and being true to oneself.

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    1. I hope he does too, Sandeep.

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  15. Dasgupta :) I wanna what u wote is amazing. I could c myself. Its so strang i had smile all through d while.:) which rare while reading a blog..:)
    Urse isn a blog its pure heart..
    I appreciate it a looot..
    I always maintained a calarity in my head m not gonna write or so to get popular.
    But at tyms just carried away attitued BUT THANK YOU SOOO MUCH.
    for helping me stay roted to what i want to be..

    I really respect every bit of dis post.
    *PURE HEART

    I would love to c u visit my blog.:)

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    1. Thank you, Ankitha. Your heartwarming words are deeply appreciated. Loved your blog too. Keep at it.

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  16. Very nice and resonating with what I myself have been thinking... The need to be popular is always there but at what cost is the question..
    And as I often find popular posts need always be the best posts..

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  17. Very nice and resonating with what I myself have been thinking... The need to be popular is always there but at what cost is the question..
    And as I often find popular posts need always be the best posts..

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    1. Welcome to SJD, Moonstone. Thanks to search traffic, sometimes the most popular posts turn out to be ones other than what you consider your best, at least in terms of page views. But, yes, it is the best post that you are remembered for and written (or spoken) about.

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  18. Happy Birthday, Shubhorup!
    And a big Congrats ...a well deserved pick!!!Sorry for stepping in late...:(

    This is a Gem of a Blog..as if you opened our awareness with your words. Thought transformation is a very interesting subject.And I hope such mind trees keep giving the bloggers the positive strokes, so that bloggers really blossom and learn to give their best.:))
    Loved each line..
    What a magnificent blogger you are...!:)

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    1. Panchali, I am turning all shades of red with your comment. Thanks for the birthday wishes. The birthday line was really metaphorical in the context of this blog.

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  19. Hey Subho..

    I can totally relate to this post. And since it is your birthday, I must tell you that you have won yourself a copy of the book 'JMPE' by Yashodhara Lal. She chose you and Charu as the winners. I will announce it on the blog when I am ready with a post that she wants me to write.

    And I dont need to re-iterate this but still saying - you write wonderfully well and your writing is engaging and addictive! Like.. am addicted to it :D

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    1. Wow! Surabhi, I have been reading reviews of the book by people whose judgement and taste I trust, and it sounds like a great read. Will be looking out for it. Thanks for your encouraging words. You were one of the first people to interact with me and guide me when I set out. I will always be grateful to you and cherish those wonderful correspondences.

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  20. The eternal conflict between do I write what I like /should I write for others! So brilliantly put, Subho! And Happy Birthday to you blog!

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    1. Thanks, Purba. When people like you leave a comment like this, I know I have done something right.

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  21. liked the new concept & idea, typical blogger may go thought all these stages in blogging life cycle : -)

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    1. So glad to have you here, Sunil. Hope you will keep coming back for more.

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  22. Well written, Subhorup! Indeed, this is a trap that all of us can fall into. To stay true to yourself and yet balance out readers' expectations is the toughest part of blogging. Loved how you wove the imagery around the little blog. Wish your blog many more successes and birthdays!

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    1. Thanks, Rachna. When I tried to study blogging as "blogging" is understood in the social, I was totally dismayed by the fact that in order to become a "big blog," one had to track trends and do keyword-dense posts. Thankfully, as I kept "studying," I found several blogs that helped me understand that staying true to one's voice was more important than the bells and whistles. Yours is one of them.

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    2. And, that is a compliment I will cherish for a long time! Thank you!

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  23. I am quite late for this lovely post, Subho! So first of all, happy birthday to your blog and its author! Now, the post is as I would have expected from you. Because beyond being a good writer/thinker--you are a neat person--a person of integrity and sincerity. A lovely person which is why this blogpost emerged from you. These words "The tree showed him that optimizing his pages and making new friends were important tools for laying the foundations for healing the world but he had mistaken them for the essence of his being"--beautiful! They touch my heart and guide me anew. Thank you!

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    1. Your comment overwhelmed me so completely that I couldn't get down to replying to any of the comments for a while, Bhavana. I missed you when you were traveling, and you have more than made up for it with this comment. Each of us has the worst of demons and the loveliest of angels within us, and they are all mutually possessed. The first step towards integrity is understanding and acknowledging our frailties and our divinity. I strive to live my life developing penetrating insight, since all our troubles arise from our deluded vision, and I fail more often than I succeed, and I rejoice and renew my determinations. I know that for many this response will seem to have no connection with your comment, and I know that seeking spirits will understand. God bless you and your work, Bhavana.

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  24. yo did not put my comment . So sending it again . Simply beautiful

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  25. A tad late to see this. Fantastic post and congratulations!! Way to go!

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  26. Such lovely writing. We can all relate to this subject.
    Subho's Jejune Diet HAS carved out a niche for itself.
    Oh, and belated birthday wishes. :)

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    1. Thanks, Divya. Social networking through blogging is much more than merely putting your writing out there and doing things to ensure it reaches the largest number of readers. It is about friendship and respect, of dialog and exchange, and of awakening to mystic connections. I am so grateful to each one of my readers. And, the birthday thing, not late at all; it was metaphorical, so you are dot on.

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  27. An Excellent post Subhorup! Speaking for myself, I switched to the 'Dynamic' template enthusiastically although it is so back-links and ad unfriendly---and 'suffered' the consequence with a drastic drop in the 'indi' ranking. Doesn't matter much to me since Blogging was never meant to be a source of income for me.

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  28. Belated 'Happy Birthday!!'

    All phases of life and part of growing up in the blogging world depicted beautifully and conclude well too!

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  29. Lovely post...my heartfelt wishes to your blog...though a bit late!

    Congratulations for being chosen as the Spicy Saturday Pick too...no surprises as this post deserved this and much more.

    I can understand the emotions you are trying to convey as I am sure each one of us "blogger" feels the same at some point of time and for me it is right now :)

    P.S: Little Prince happens to be my all time favourite too!

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