Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Imagined Liberties

I apologize for my absence. I had a lot happen in the past few weeks and have kept fairly busy.

The first major happening: I have voluntarily left the National Park Service to begin working for myself (no more individual disclaimers attached to the end of each post!).

Calm down! Calm down! For those who did not see that coming, I apologize. For those who did, I appreciate all of your recent support. And for those who had no clue that I was even a park ranger, now you know.

Whew! Now that I have got that off my chest, I can continue.

I debated whether or not I should announce that fairly major life transition or just ignore it and keep writing as if nothing has changed. I started this blog as a place for me to sort out my challenges I faced in my job as an interpretive park ranger for the National Park Service. Now that I no longer work for the National Park Services my challenges will certainly shift. However, even though I don't wear the flat hat anymore, I have not changed. I have the same background, education levels, and experience. I still like history, I still like traveling, my gears still constantly turn when I read about or see something connected to historical memory, and I still write. My goal of inspiring the interest of history for the general public remains and now I feel that I have more freedom to continue to do it.

In a recent email conversation, a friend of mine commented on my breaking away from the National Park Service by mentioning that I will now have the liberty to write about what I want, how I want. He mentioned that while working for the National Park Service, it was just an "imagined liberty." Being publicly associated with any organization creates varying forms of liberty when writing. Indeed, I will no longer have to post my disclaimers nor do I have to be concerned I might get a call from my supervisor about my writings (an event that may or may not have happened in my recent past). However, I do sense that my liberties will always be some form of imagined. But imagined liberties are a good thing. Imagined liberties spark innovation, drive creativity, and push ideas forward.

Writing for public consumption, especially through a dynamic and open medium like blogging, requires a degree of boldness and many imagined liberties. Recently, C-Span aired a session from last summer's Civil War Institute's Summer Conference at Gettysburg College entitled "Civil War Blogging." The blogging panelists discussed their approaches to blogging then answered questions, mostly from audience members. All three bloggers, Kevin Levin, Brooks Simpson, and Keith Harris wrote responses to the re-airing of the session. I appreciate their attitudes about blogging. Nobody is forcing them to write and they don't have any official "license" or "stamp of approval" to write. All three touch on the idea of blogging as a form of conversation. All three also touch on the idea of authority. And all three touch on audience. All three have created their virtual "space" to invite others to engage by imagining the liberty to do so.

Blogging serves as a method to engage with others; I write, I post, you read, you assess, maybe you respond. As it turns out, this same process happens in many forms of communication. Blogging is just one way to provide food for thought or to outline an opinion or even to stir up the dust a little. There are no official "rules" in blogging. This is a process; I will speak for myself that I learn a little more with each posting about what works, what doesn't, how I want to shift the direction of the content. As technology changes, so will these varying forms of communications. Who gives permission to write? Nobody. Who reads? Anybody who wants to read.

I also find that writing about things like history, memory, public awareness (or lack of awareness), and interpretation of these things also require levels of imagined liberty, often stirring up more dust than expected. I am not always ready for those little clouds I help create. But I see stirring up dust as a positive thing. In my mind, if I have stirred up dust, I have caused somebody to think a little differently (or just think). I am a fan of thinking. And I like to see potential in thinking. Potential revs up my possibility engine and gets me going. But then again, I have created this possibility by imagining my liberty to do so.

I am currently looking at an entire horizon of possibility now I am not wearing the green and grey. I will still write about history and interpretation (you know, since that is the name of this blog and all), I will just have a different type of imagined liberty. The world is my oyster! I will start by imagining it, first.


  1. Good for you, EKG! Sometimes our dreams don't pan out the way we want them to, and it's so brave of you to step back and reevaluate, and then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

    "Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over." -F. Scott Fitzgerald