An accounting

I spent much of the last year reflecting on my place in this world, struggling to find my meaning and purpose, and wondering how to remake myself and my blog in 2020, during which I will have been in my job at the Duke Department of Medicine for 10 years, I will have been a blogger for 20 years, and I will have lived for 50 years. It feels like the year ahead is one to chronicle.

Dave Winer recently advised his readers to “always think of your blog as if you were starting it now, not in the past. The world is different.”

My personal about page, at, has long described my origins as a blogger, how I’ve used this medium to connect my far-flung family members and honor my dying grandfather, and what drove me to organize online communities and face-to-face gatherings. I wrote a lot about my childhood, about my experiences as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Vanuatu, about my being a loving husband and father and son and brother, about my decade of narrative, about my work at Duke.

In 2014, my blogging changed, first through silence as I contemplated the lessons of my projects and successes and failures, then through a return to the Zuiker Chronicles with an attempt at slow blogging, then again through a strategy to write short and talk more. I’m still not writing as often or as much or as observant as I want to be, in good part because I seem to have lost sight of what I’m for. Though who I am for is clear to me: I am trying to be a part of a better world for my family, my friends, my community, and you. I recognize that there are important global emergencies, political issues, and societal inequities all around me. I can’t give up or give in.

I went to the dictionary on my bookshelf (The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary) to check the definition of chronicles—“a record, register, narrative, account”—and of chronicle—” to put on record, to register”—and was reminded that this blog still has a good name. Zuiker Chronicles can continue to honor my forefathers, and can travel with me in the months ahead, to New Orleans and Frederiksted, to Saxapahaw and Alaska’s inner passage, to Alabama where we’ll visit the Equal Justice Initiative.

I recently read Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by EJI founder Bryan Stevenson. Early in the book, Stevenson quotes his grandmother’s advice to him: “You can’t understand most of the important things from a distance, Bryan. You have to get close.”

This week my ophthalmologist adjusted my prescription so I can see close better. Perhaps that will help me in blogging in details, chronicling these days, noticing people. Perhaps this should be a year of close blogging. Perhaps this will remind me of the important things, and give me purpose.



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