Thursday, April 30, 2009

Farris no more

Alas, I am both sad and relieved to announce the passing of my online alter-ego: blogger, occasional writer and dilettante podcaster Farris Thorne.

He went quietly but slowly over the last year or so, not from SARS or swine flu mind you, but rather from an affliction called "fading," in which he spent more and more time in front of a blank screen, waiting for independent thoughts or words to take form, too often coming up empty in both words and feelings.

Naturally there were symptoms. The evolution of his old blog from a place housing those random thoughts and everyday happenings into a Sitemeter-equipped multimedia center, an evolution he found torturous when the expected and ego-soothing visitor numbers failed to rack up. The abandonment of his podcast, an act he attributed to household noise and a lack of free time, more likely caused by his realization that he had so little to say. He even suffered through a gradual retreat from e-mail, where messages sent would so often go unanswered, without any evidence his were falling into spam filters.

Sadly, for this affliction there was no cure. After retiring both his podcast and blog in 2008, Farris lived out his final days watching political contests, commenting on the blogs of others and submitting occasional haiku to at least one popular website.

In the end he went slowly and quietly, his only real regret being his inability to stomach editing his NaNoWriMo work from a couple of years ago. Now he belongs to the ages, residing only in the fervently backed-up memories of others' web servers.

For those wondering, Farris was not me. But his life did curiously parallel my own. We both found fatherhood an endless source of inspiration, both attempted to enrich ourselves through the art of writing, both found ourselves too busy for our own good on many an occasion. He lived mostly off the grid, however, enjoying a lifestyle of virtual invisibility that provided him with the perception of freedom to write about anything he wanted, in any way he wanted, without fear of consequence.

But in the end, that was a freedom he failed to exercise. He always felt writing was a gain, never understanding that gain without risk is gain without value. He wanted the rewards of writing, but never realized that reward without possibility of consequence is at best an empty victory. And it's because of this he never felt the value of putting his words -- and himself -- on the line.

As a parting gift, he willed some of his favorite short pieces to me; they have become part of Extemporalia, and will remain as fond reminders.

But Farris is gone now. Although all passings are sad occasions, for me his brings new possibilities. His byline is replaced by my own. His perception of freedom is replaced with my exercise of courage. And only with the arrival of risk comes the opportunity of reward.