“Leaves are falling
all around, it's time I was on my way –
Thanks to you I'm much obliged, for such a pleasant stay … “
- - Led Zeppelin, “Ramble On” (video after post)
At Thanksgiving I posted an old Bloom County comic strip that referenced the notion of permanence – which, ironically, was published in the summer of 1989, just a handful of weeks before author Berke Breathed officially brought that chapter of his career to a close. I remember feeling quite melancholy about the departure of Bloom County from the daily comics*, even though I recognized that the strip had morphed and changed and played out so many crazy story lines that it must have been practically impossible to keep things fresh and exciting anymore.
(*Coincidentally, in the summer of 1989 I had a lot of things going for me: I had finished my freshman year at the college I had dreamed of attending since I was a little kid, spent one of the most exhilarating seasons I could remember as part of the UCLA rowing team, and wasted more days than I can remember bumming around the beaches of southern California. And although I didn’t realize it at the time, I had met the girl who would eventually become my wife. Yet I was still legitimately sad about this nutty comic strip coming to an end – which should tell you all you need to know about my maturity level in the late 1980s.)
I couldn’t even honestly say that Bloom County was my favorite strip anymore; at the time, both Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side were at the top of their games, proving themselves far more endearing and universally funny - and in hindsight, they would hold up much better over the ensuing two decades. Yet there was something special about Bloom County for me. Perhaps it was the lovably quirky characters, or the absurdly fantastic adventures they set out on, or the often embarrassingly candid expressions of introspection and insecurity they displayed – whatever it was, I simply identified with this cartoon more than all the others.
The final story line of the strip described how the characters eventually found work at other comic strips; among my favorites was African-American computer wiz Oliver Wendell Jones being bused in to join the cast of Family Circus. Ultimately Opus, the character who had become the heart and soul of the strip, walked off into the sunset with the promise of more crazy experiences awaiting him at some nondescript destination - later revealed to be Outland, a Sunday-only spinoff that was relatively short-lived and never remotely established the same emotional connection as the original.
|Click to enlarge|
The reason I’m telling you all this is because it wasn’t a coincidence that I ran that strip here last week. It’s time to bring a chapter of my own life to a close … and we’re entering the final weeks of Running and Rambling.
It’s a decision that’s been percolating in my head for the better part of a year, and finally reached critical mass over the past couple of months. This website has always been a labor of love, but the “labor” side of that equation has been overwhelming the “love” side with increasing frequency, and I’ve long since reached the point of diminishing returns in regards to how much time I want to invest on this pet hobby of mine.
Lest anyone be concerned, rest assured that everything is fine with me. Longtime readers will recall that I tried to quit once before, a decision that was precipitated by a family crisis, under circumstances that seemed abrupt and beyond my control. (And no, I’m not linking to those posts – it’s not exactly a period of time I’m eager to revisit.) This time around, things couldn’t be more different: I’ve had a ton of time to mull it over, and it’s a decision that I’m making completely on my own, without any external drivers influencing me one way or the other.
|"Goodbye, me" - click to enlarge|
In fact, it’s precisely because I find myself so richly blessed that the day to day machinations of maintaining a website seem extremely inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Life is morphing and changing and inserting me into a hundred crazy story lines, and I want to give all of them my full attention without worrying about how much time I need to be spending on my laptop in order to get the next post published. Or, to paraphrase the immortal philosopher Ferris Bueller: life is moving pretty fast, and if I don’t stop and look around, I’m afraid I might miss it.
However, none of this implies that you’ve seen the last of me. Like the Bloom County characters of 1989, many aspects of this blog will carry on elsewhere. I’ll continue to be a gear guru, with minimalist footwear reviews posted on Gear Institute, and all other manner of products reviewed on Feed the Habit (I’ve contributed to each of these sites for a number of years now). Team Soft Star will continue to race at ultras - although which ones and when, I have no idea yet – with race reports published on Soft Star’s Live Bare blog. And if things go according to plan, you'll occasionally see my name pop up on freelance writing gigs for various outdoor or health-related magazines. None of these will have quite the same emotional connection for me as my original website, but they're exactly the type of outlets I need right now.
|Same idiot, different websites|
I’m tentatively planning to publish my final post on December 31 – that seems like a fitting date to bring things to a close – so think of the next four weeks around here as one final adventure. I honestly have no idea how things will play out; maybe I’ll run some favorite posts, maybe I’ll try some crazy things I've never gotten around to, or maybe I’ll just continue business as usual and then play "Freebird" on my way out of the building. All I know for now is that I have a few product reviews to post and at least one more contest giveaway to offer, which you’ll see for yourself next week.
In the meantime, I’m overwhelmingly obliged to everyone who helped make Running and Rambling a success; it’s been such a pleasant stay that I know a part of me will always be legitimately sad about its departure. Hopefully I’ll be able to convey the extent of that gratitude at some point … but for now, it’s time for me to go – and as fate would have it, tonight there’s a full moon to guide me.
“Now it’s time for me to go, the autumn moon lights my way … ”
- Led Zeppelin, “Ramble On” (click to play):
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