September 4, 2009

A Time to Live…

Category: News — Ira @ 6:56 pm


To every thing there is a season, and a time
to every purpose under the heaven…

—Ecclesiastes 3:1

One hundred and twenty-four weeks. That’s how long it’s been. Almost two and a half years. One hundred and twenty-four straight weeks of posting a new blog every Friday night. That’s a long, long time. Any way you look at it.

That’s what I thought to myself as I struggled a few weeks ago to come to grips with the fact that the time had arrived for a guest blogger. My friend John and I had discussed it. He had agreed to do it. He’d have something ready, he assured me. I had no doubt he would. But yet, when the chips were down and the moment came, it was hard to let it go. Even for a week.

In the end, I forced myself to do it. I was exhausted. Felt empty. And it was my birth- day. Send me what you got, I told John. The decision was made. And then I let it go.

From the first moment, it seemed, a great weight was lifted from me. I relaxed. Didn’t fret or fuss about what had to be done, and how soon. Or about the subject matter.

I slept. Slumbered for the first time in years, without words and phrases running through my mind in my dreams. I read. Books. Magazines. The web. I watched baseball and football. Frolicked in the sun. Went to a friend’s house one evening for dinner. Hung out. I did everything but write.

It was great. I felt alive. An active participant.

On Monday, my birthday, I felt like doing something completely off the wall. Something out of character. I mulled my options. Buy a motorcycle. Naw, don’t want to commit suicide. Hike the Appalachian Trail. Takes too much planning. Parachute out of an airplane. Too wild, even for my present mood. So I decided to take the plunge and open a Facebook account. That’s quite enough excitement for a paranoid schizo like me.

So I did. Just like that. Shocking. It was easy. I welcome new Friends. Join me.

And as the days passed, I realized how relaxed I was. No stress. John emailed his material early in the week. I looked it over with a critical eye. Good. Almost zero editing. No stress there either. I could handle more of that.

All too soon, the week ended. On Friday, right on time, John’s blog was posted to great acclaim. Good stuff. And now it’s time to return my nose to the grindstone. Crank out the old weekly posts for all those impatient readers out there.

Except maybe it’s not.

The blog was forged under the intense pressures of stress and pain and loss and grief and fear. And a whole lot of other crap. The turmoil unleashing in waves. I didn’t really plan anything. It just kind of happened, fell together on its own. The first few months are pretty rough, writing-wise and in subject matter. It’s where I was. What I felt. And what I thought. When I was finding my voice.

Unplanned, most of it, from week to week. It’s all there. Every blog, from the first one. In chronological order. You can go back and check them out. Every one. Exactly as they were posted.

It’s all there. The pain and rage and fear and hurt. The loneliness and sorrow. I laid it all out there in raw and bloody words. And in time, other things too. Politics. Current happenings. Stories from my childhood. Memories. Nostalgia. Interspersed with occasional spasmatic regressions as certain events and anniversaries stirred the old demons from their sleep.

Overall, I’ve been pretty open. Maybe too much so for some of you. Most of you know how I feel and what I think about a lot of things. From politics to pickup trucks to football to the brutal turmoil engulfing the breakup of my marriage. And everything between.

I’ve been asked more than a few times during the past two years if I’m angry at God. I’ve always thought that a strange question. Angry at God? Why would I be? It never occurred to me to conveniently blame God for all the bad stuff that happens when people actively mess up their own lives. I haven’t been angry at Him at all. Apathetic, maybe. I’ve felt far from Him sometimes. But angry? Never even crossed my mind.

And I look back over those first twelve months of posts. How the readership gradually and steadily increased, mostly by word of mouth. Along with a few helpful links here and there. How I kept plugging away, doing what needed to be done. Moving forward, week after weary week. I now have an accumulation of writings I could not have fathomed even two short years ago. My total hit count should pass 165,000 this week. An honorable number. Not staggering. But honorable.

And it filled a deep need inside me, the writing and the posting. The modern word for it, I suppose, is therapy. But that seems a little trite. Whatever it was, it helped me deal with what was bugging me. And move on.

But it’s been tougher, the last while. To take the time needed to produce something of quality every week. Every blog demanded all my spare moments. Every evening. Eight to fifteen hours a week. Which was great, the first two years.

But lately not so much. I got a sense that the costs in time and pressure were depriving me of other aspects that needed some attention. Like living. Last week confirmed that.

To everything there is a season, as the Preacher wrote so long ago. The season for weekly posts on this blog is over. It is time for me to live. Return to the things I have neglected these past two years. And perhaps venture into some unexplored terrain. Taste some new experiences. I’m ready.

The rage is gone now. And most of the pain. In the late hours of the night, the fear returns sometimes, slipping into the edges of my consciousness like a ghost. As does the sense of loss. Of so much, so many things that are gone and will never return. A certain degree of sadness, I think, will remain with me always. But mostly, I’m good. In decent shape emotionally. My heart is calm. I’ve accepted life as it is. It took two-plus years and thousands of dollars worth of counseling for me to be able to write this paragraph.

But now I can. And mean it.

It’s a peaceful place to be. Although I’m fully aware there will be flashbacks some- times. I know not “what dreams may come” when least expected. Some things, I know, will have to be confronted and faced down again and again. But less and less, I hope, in time.

It’s a peaceful place to be. I don’t ever want to leave.

That doesn’t mean I won’t write. Writing is a part of my life now. It will always be, for as long as I can punch a keyboard. So I will continue to produce. Just not every week. I don’t need to now. And I just don’t have it in me anymore.

Loosely, I plan to post about every two weeks, always on a Friday evening as usual. Although I won’t commit to a firm schedule. Sometimes I might post two weeks in a row, then not again for awhile, and sometimes every other week. After each post, I will note that fact on my Facebook page with a link to the blog. Those without Facebook will just have to check in occasionally for a new post. I may lose some of you. If so, it’s been a great ride.

I’ve always appreciated all my readers, except for a few tedious Flamers who got kicked out quite some time ago. Some of you have been with me from the beginning. It’s been a long journey and a memorable one, at least for me. I’m deeply grateful for your faithful support. And for those of you who joined me somewhere along the way. We’ve come a long way together. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Walk with me in the future as I continue on a more leisurely pace along the path so faithfully traveled these past two years. As I flesh out some of my previous sketches and throw out a new one now and then. There’s still a lot of material to be gleaned. A lot of stories to be told. About a lot of fascinating and unique characters.

The vibrant details of the past remain vividly ingrained in my mind and memory. Like fields of gold, rippling in the winds, heavy with the fruits of harvest.

And I will reap that harvest. In time. On my own terms.



  1. Awwww–you’re messing up my Friday evening routine ;)
    JK you deserve a break! I’ll see you on Facebook ;) Love you!

    Comment by Dorothy — September 4, 2009 @ 7:26 pm

  2. Beautiful. Even in laying out the new terms of your new relationship to the blog and to us, you move me. Take your time. We’ll always be right here. I’m happy for you.

    Comment by Katie H. — September 4, 2009 @ 7:44 pm

  3. Best wishes for the “living” part, Ira! We’ll all be curious to see what new adventures you go for… ! :-)

    Comment by vera — September 4, 2009 @ 8:49 pm

  4. I guess Friday night will still come around once a week but it just won’t be the same. There have been several times that I checked your blog a few times in one evening so anxious to read the new riveting story only to find that I had to wait just a little longer till it was posted. I am happy for you that you will now take the time to write without the deadline but the selfish part of me doesn’t want the weekly ritual to end. It must be tough to be so popular. :-)

    Comment by Smucker — September 4, 2009 @ 9:22 pm

  5. I literally held my breath as I was reading, in fear that this blog is going to go the way that other great blogs have since Facebook has appeared on the scene. I have been a fan of your blog since the day I stumbled on it. I have applauded, laughed, cried, been furious, angry, disagreed and agreed with your views.

    I applaud your decision to write only when it’s actually in you. The responsibility to please their readers has been the literary death of many other talented writers, don’t go there! You deserve a break! But just don’t desert us entirely! Thanks for the great times!!!!

    Comment by Amy — September 4, 2009 @ 10:42 pm

  6. Whew! I thought you were leading up to ditching it entirely. Glad you’ll still be around. And doing even more quality and lasting writing, other than the fun blogs.

    Can’t tell you what to do, of course. But there is something to longevity; and surely there must be a way to turn such a great readership (ahem) to some profit.

    Life; and more abundantly. So there is value to change when needed, too. (Can hardly help moralizing, can I?)

    Comment by LeRoy — September 4, 2009 @ 11:08 pm

  7. I am going to miss your weekly blogs. But I have been burned out too after blogging for a few years on Xanga and simply quit.

    Comment by Katie Troyer — September 4, 2009 @ 11:24 pm

  8. I so enjoy reading your page, glad to hear you will still be around writing when the mood strikes :) Thank you for enriching all your readers with your wonderful thoughts and slant on life…I shall keep checking back for new posts.

    Comment by Erin — September 4, 2009 @ 11:50 pm

  9. I understand completely.

    Comment by Anonymous — September 5, 2009 @ 8:08 am

  10. Sounds real good, Ira. I said last night that sometimes I feel like I have a big hungry gorilla following me around, because of the stress of my sewing business and all. Very happy you have found a way to tame yours.

    Comment by pilgrimhen — September 5, 2009 @ 11:51 am

  11. A timely decision, with the Nascar season heating up and football season firing up.

    Good job on the Facebook account. I couldn’t get any takers for an over/ under on how soon Ira joins Facebook.

    Comment by Reuben Wagler — September 5, 2009 @ 1:57 pm

  12. Amy up there said it before I did.

    All the best!

    Comment by Ann — September 5, 2009 @ 3:28 pm

  13. See you in Facebook. :)

    Thank you for your writings.

    Comment by Abbigail Starr — September 5, 2009 @ 9:11 pm

  14. I’m sorry to hear you are considering slacking off on your blogging. I was a good friend of Elmo Stoll and enjoyed your blogs about him. Also John Keim is my first cousin. We lived in Honduras during the Stoll era. Over the years we met or heard about most of the Aylmer people. Enjoyed the blogs about Nicky Stoltzfus, Levi Slabaugh and countless others. My wife and I were also one of those (curious) visitors in your parents home years ago. I will still be checking your site, looking forward to some more interesting reading.

    Comment by Alvino — September 7, 2009 @ 1:54 pm

  15. Ira, like many of your readers, I thought this blog was going to be, “It’s been nice but GOODBYE.” It is not goodbye at all. It is that you are embarking on a new and, no doubt, exciting part of your life……..and you are going to be taking us with you. In all your writings, you have taken your readers along. We have traveled with you, we laughed, we got sad and on and on. You have given so many of us a little refuge, someplace to go when we needed a new thought, a story….just something to help us along our own way. Thank you also for letting us, your readers, know that we have been a part of getting you to the place you are now. I look forward to the new journey.

    As I don’t do “Facebook,” I will be looking forward to your periodic posts for sure.

    Comment by Robert Miller — September 8, 2009 @ 11:58 am

  16. So sorry…. I’ve not missed one of your posts thus far and I’ve enjoyed each of them. Looking forward to more!

    Comment by Jason Yutzy — September 8, 2009 @ 5:23 pm

  17. Ira, I am a relatively new reader of your blog and have enjoyed the trips you have taken us on. I was introduced to your works by my son, but not soon enough. I am glad it has been a successful venture for you and WISH you the best in the future.. Incidently I was introduced to Big Blue..Will look forward to whatever decide to write in the future.

    Comment by Robert Miller, Sr. — September 8, 2009 @ 5:38 pm

  18. Ira, thanks for the many stories, sure enjoyed them all. The good, the bad, and the ugly. All of them with different emotions of course. It has been great to see your writing style improve with time. Maybe with extra time on our hands, we can burn some charcoal.

    Comment by Bear — September 10, 2009 @ 10:04 pm

  19. Well, I hate it for my sake, but love it for yours! Good for you ~ I think you’ll enjoy posting a lot more when it’s here and there and more relaxing – look what just one week off did for you! See you on Facebook – not. Well…maybe – I should never say never!! :)

    Comment by Bethrusso — September 11, 2009 @ 7:51 pm

  20. Now I came the following week to see your new post (creature of habit). Sigh. Hey, maybe I can just make a long comment in the in-between times, so people keep hitting your site :-)

    Comment by LeRoy — September 12, 2009 @ 7:16 pm

  21. My husband and I watched “24 Charing Cross Road” over the weekend. We’ve seen it before but it’s one of our favourites so we went for round two. The circumstances in the movie (people forming relationships though never meeting) reminded me of modern day blogging. In particular, what I’ve just read above. How people long to be known. How connections form. How you become a part of a person’s life just by showing up…writing…or reading. It’s cool. I’m really glad I stumbled upon your book. You’re a neat person to know. And I love the way you write.

    Comment by Francine — January 25, 2013 @ 12:14 am

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