For years I had a recurrent dream in which I walked out my backdoor onto a short sidewalk that ended up at the door of a large, greenhouse-looking building that I had forgotten was there. It turned out to be an aviary for tropical birds. The enclosure was filled with cages containing birds like the beauties pictured in this post (photographed at the Greater Baton Rouge Zoo), plus dozens of small, colorful parakeets.
The difference between the birds in the pictures and the birds in my dream is that the dream birds were dying. A few of them were already dead. All the food and water dishes were empty, the cages covered in droppings, and those birds that were still alive, lying on their sides and gasping for breath, had ragged feathers and bald patches.
I was horrified in the dream to find the birds in such dreadful condition and horrified even more to know that I was the one who had allowed it to happen. I loved the birds, but, feeling overwhelmed by life in general, I'd allowed one day after another to pass without tending to them. Now I was looking at the consequences of my neglect.
Every time I had that dream, the guilt I felt lingered long into the day ahead. It's been years since the dream has recurred, but I remember the lesson of it well.
I thought about it the other day when I was considering this blog. I've been neglecting it, I know, and I'm pretty sure it's dying. I'm not feeding it on a regular basis. The number of readers has dwindled down to a small fraction of what it used to be. My fault.
I have loved the blogging experience and the people I've met along the way, but when days or weeks pass without new posts, I feel as guilty as I did in the dream about the birds, and I do not like that feeling.
My choices are to stop -- to scratch this blog off my to-do list so I don't have to think about it anymore -- or to pick up its ragged body while it has one breath left and attempt to resuscitate it, to nurse it back to health. At this point I don't know what I want to do.
Indecision feels almost as unpleasant as guilt.
PS: I once told a co-worker about my dying-bird dream. She then told me she had an almost identical dream, also recurring, except that the victims of her neglect were fish in an enormous aquarium. According to articles on the Internet, these types of dreams are fairly common. Weird, huh?