Don’t Take Participation for Granted

You can read these words.

You have access to knowledge unknown and unfathomable to any generation before you.

You are online, connected, exploring big ideas and complex thoughts.

Explain a valuable life lesson you learned in 2021.

I restarted blogging at the beginning of 2021 after a fairly long absence from the sport. I put fingers to keys once again not because I think I have anything particularly important to say or even to add to a conversation already a billion-voices-strong, but because everyone should be able to have a space among those voices.

Everyone should at the very least be able to participate.

Equally. And if not, then equitably.

This is definitely not the case right now.

Voices are amplified because they are already louder.

Voices are lifted because they come from someone famous.

Voices go viral because they say something ridiculous, hateful, dumb, or nonsensical.

Some people like to talk about deplatforming.

Some people opt to complain about cancel culture.

Others seem to be hung up on who has the right to speak about one thing versus another thing.

We can and should have authorities on topics of importance, voices who speak with weight on certain topics or issues or policies. We should hear those voices and measure them against rational, thoughtful indicators of truth, reason, and the tools by which we measure the same.

But we should all participate in the conversation. At the very least, weigh in, converse, listen, and hear each other. Participate in two-way or a billion-way exchanges of position, idea, and respect.

This is definitely not the case right now.

You can read these words. You are participating. I am participating. We shouldn’t take that for granted. It is a gift, a responsibility, and part of being alive in this time when we all live.

Thirty one topics. Thirty one posts. Not exactly a list… but close. In December I like to look back on the year that was. My daily posts in December-ish are themed-ish and may contain spoilers set against the backdrop of some year-end-ish personal exposition.

Across the Universe

This afternoon I was driving through a snowstorm listening to a science radio show on the CBC talking about the launch of the new James Webb space telescope.

The James Webb Space Telescope is a space telescope being jointly developed by NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. It is planned to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope as NASA’s flagship astrophysics mission.

– Wikipedia

That programme got me thinking about how a couple weeks back I looked out across the evening sky while I was out for a walk and noted that three bright “stars” were lined up right there above me. I opened my astronomy app on my phone and oriented the navigation tool to point towards them above the horizon and realized that I wasn’t looking at stars, but instead very likely and as best as I could deduce, three planets neatly aligned just over the roofs of some neighbourhood houses.

Looking at the sky makes me feel pretty small in the vast scheme of things, peering out into the universe and realizing that even our one little solar system in the backwater of our one little galaxy barely registers as anything but points of light in the vast inky blackness of the multiverse.

Describe your 2021 in politics, culture, and the universe?

I point this insignificance out because I think there are those of us who feel the reality of our smallness and rareness in the vast universe and embrace it. I also think there are others who lash out against it in ways that are indecipherable to the rest of us.

Both perspectives emerge from that mist of confusion in many different forms representing many different things.

For me, it emerges as rambling blog posts, art, occasionally music, and adventures through my little corner of this tiny planet.

For others, it seems to emerge in less constructive ways. Politics, online rage, cruelty, crime, and willfully working against the general goodness that is possible in this universe.

In the upcoming year I hope you find a way to lean into even just a little more constructiveness — for yourself, for me, for all of us — as you whirl through the incomprehensible vastness of the universe, and that you continue to enjoy my attempts at the same right here as I continue to write about cooking, travel, adventure, and filling my face with delicious foods.

Thirty one topics. Thirty one posts. Not exactly a list… but close. In December I like to look back on the year that was. My daily posts in December-ish are themed-ish and may contain spoilers set against the backdrop of some year-end-ish personal exposition.

Legacy

I’ve never grown older before, so forgive me if you have and I’m just being obvious.

The older I get the more I think about the balance between the entropic impermanence of all things and the human urge to continue creating and planning and hoping in the face of that impermanence.

I think it is all twisted up in this idea of legacy.

What excited you most in 2021?

I thought about legacy a lot this past year, and when I paused to reflect on what gave me back some of that hope and excitement during the past twelve (give or take) months, this idea of legacy kept popping into my head.

I’ve had no shortage of unplanned opportunities since starting a blog called “the cast iron guy” to explain my connection to that particular style of cookware, particularly since I can’t fallback to a simpler explanation such as “I sell it” (which I don’t) or “I collect it” (which my wife may argue is where I’m trending but my collection is not worth writing home about) or “I’m an expert in it” (which would be a stretch to sincerely claim.)

As I’ve often alluded to, occasionally openly written about, this whole “cast iron guy” idea strays into a universe where I adore all things ferrous, but is actually more of a clue to an overarching philosophy of lifestyle that I’ve been trying to embrace more fulsomely: uncomplicated things, life lived, and a mindset that reflects the philosophical practicality of well-seasoned cast iron frying pan, enduring, simple, down-to-earth & extremely useful, as I write in my snippet.

It’s also deeply entrenched with the idea of legacy.

Instilling in my daughter a legacy tied to objects like cookware and sourdough starters.

Building a legacy of lifestyle through travel, exploration and curiosity.

Maintaining a legacy of worldliness and environmental stewardship.

Leaving behind a legacy of ideology and an approach to the universe.

I think as we get older we may not all panic about the dwindling time we have left, but in some small way many of us start putting more effort into shaping what will remain behind when that time dwindles to nothing.

Maybe it’s imprecise to say I got excited about legacy this past year. Though it is clear that I thought and wrote and waxed poetic quite a lot about this idea of legacy, even if those thoughts were not strictly labelled as such.

Thirty one topics. Thirty one posts. Not exactly a list… but close. In December I like to look back on the year that was. My daily posts in December-ish are themed-ish and may contain spoilers set against the backdrop of some year-end-ish personal exposition.

Picture Perfect

The nice thing about scaling back on my posting commitments for a couple months is that I’ve been able to comb through the site I’ve built this past year and tweak what’s here, refine how it’s displayed or add completely new things.

Most of this is “under the hood” so to speak, but regular readers may notice a few minor changes I’ve made to castironguy.ca over the last week or so.

One of the big things is photo galleries.

I hastily added a photo gallery plugin at the end of June as a means to do some light updates to the site in between my sporadic summer posting schedule. If you haven’t seen that I’ve been updating a Summer 2021 gallery of random photos a few times per week.

I’ve been fascinated by online photo sharing for a long time now. Fascinated? Well, intrigued and captured by the potential of sharing a medium that I love in a fluid and barrier-free way, I guess would be the better explanation.

For years, in fact, I maintained an online gallery that had thousands of photos grouped into hundreds of albums, ranging the gamut from kid-pics to be shared with the family, all the way through to a kind of semi-professional portfolio of my better, high quality images. The effort got dated, of course, content and software-wise. It was lightly hacked. I took it down, archived it and never tried to replace it.

I did replace it with social media, I guess. Over the last couple years I’ve been active on Instagram sharing photos to various curated accounts, one private for people I know IRL and a couple public themed accounts for everyone else. Yet, social media has lately become something of a tangled mess of paywalls and advertising and fake content and frustrations, so I’ve leaned away from that and other platforms in recent months and chosen to put more effort into private website content like this site.

So having added that gallery plugin I’ve been getting some photos into it, deciding how I want it to look and act, and posting some updated collections. It makes me excited to have a place to post more photos again. Stay tuned.