Thursday, September 24, 2009
The authors of "Touch the Elbow" are not willing to concede to the news from a fellow blogger just yet, meaning weíre not planning to lower our flag to half staff today, or in the near future. Weíre going to pull a Major Robert Anderson and stay the course in the presence of wolves howling at the door.
By now you may be aware that Eric Wittenberg announced on ďRantings of a Civil War HistorianĒ that he was taking a break from blogging and pulling back to take stock of his life. Iím not going to attempt an analysis of what may or may not be happening, because thatís between Eric and, as he points out, his reflection in the mirror. But as I wrote in a comment to him, I know work related burnout from personal experience and, trust me, itís horrible to go through and something thatís incredibly difficult to combat. If you try to ignore or convince yourself you can bull your way through, sooner or later the gas pedal becomes frozen, the fuzzy cloudy feeling in your head seems like a permanent condition, and your ability to string coherent thoughts together a thing of the past. You donít want to walk out the door in the morning. You want to retreat to the safety and comfort of your bed and have a televised image of Jerry Springer as your only companion.
There are many, many people who know Eric far better than I do. Iíve only met him once, which occurred over a two day period while we were on the same Kilpatrick-Dalhgren Raid tour. Prior to going on the tour Eric allowed me to read two key chapters of the manuscript for what would turn out to be his latest release, ďLike a Meteor Blazing Brightly: The Short Controversial Life of Colonel Ulric Dahlgren.Ē I was blown away not only by his willingness to share his work, but the generosity of doing so with a complete nobody.
Meeting Eric was as revealing, in that it defined him as to the person he is. Heís a big guy, Iím not. Instead of using physical presence and reputation to intimidate me, I was immediately put at ease. He was just a regular guy; an interesting guy, who happened to share a common passion, who was as interested in what I was working on as I was interested in what he was working on. My God! the guy was human. He just knew a whole hell of a lot more about the Civil War than I did.
So, this is not an obituary, but rather akin to visiting the emergency room where someone is being treated for a badly sprained ankle. No flowers necessary. Just get well cards to let Eric know we all hope heíll lose the crutches and be back running a 400 meter race at a track meet of his own time and choosing.
And Eric, if you read this, hopefully the authors of "Touch the Elbow" can emulate your example by achieving a goal of 1,000 well written, thought provoking, and informative posts, unless, of course we fade to black a third time...