|Taken by Diane last Thursday|
And they are truly my friends. Cherished and special to me, they are not just acquaintances any more, people I spend so much time with, people whose lives I know quite a bit about, just through the inevitable chitchat as we walk. Last Thursday we had sixteen people join us; within that group there were three medical doctors, although one is retired the other two are still working. Fred is back with us after having taken two years off to help out his former employer; several retired college professors join us, and many retired schoolteachers as well. Even though you don't need to be retired to join the Senior Center, being able to have Thursdays free requires either a flexible schedule, or no schedule at all.
In addition to having formed deep bonds with these people over the years, there's also my blogging family. It was a complete surprise to me that my desire to keep writing after my retirement led me to create two blogs and all the connection that comes from them. On this blog I write once a week early on Sunday morning. It's become part of my schedule, whether self-imposed or not, I would not feel right if I didn't sit in the dark with my laptop and begin to compose. Sometimes it's difficult to think what to write about, since in looking back over the week nothing stands out as important enough or relevant. It does require me to take stock, think back and review what's on my mind.
And then I just... let the keys click away as I sip my tea and ponder. Sometimes I hit a snag or decide I didn't want to go in that direction after all, and I'll start over. Often I share more than I intend of the trials and tribulations of this or that, but that's really all right, I think. I'm not hiding my daily life but living it out in the open. I don't actually realize sometimes how open, until I'm walking down the street one day and someone will come up to me and tell me they recognize me from my blog pictures. We'll sometimes have a short conversation about it, but I will walk away and wonder why in the world a stranger would actually seek to follow some old lady's weekly ruminations.
But then I also think of all the blogs I follow, the lives I peek into and people I look forward to hearing about. My friend in Australia who shows me pictures of kangaroos and tells of the trials she faces with illness; the wonderful woman in Texas who feeds hundreds of whistling ducks and tells of her life on the ranch; my friends in Minnesota and Canada whose blogs run the gamut of indoor and outdoor activities; those on the East Coast who have endured weather events from incredible snowstorms to Hurricane Sandy—this list could go on and on, because I care about these people and their lives. And they care about me, too. I know this from their comments, and sometimes through private emails we have shared. I have visited Vashon Island twice now to have a retreat with five other bloggers who live nearby. They are cherished and dear friends, now both in the blogging world and in the flesh. It all started with blogging, though.
Before the Internet took over my life, I spent time perusing the morning paper, and I enjoyed the editorial section. I had favorites I wouldn't miss. I read many political editorials, some folksy ones like Erma Bombeck, and I looked forward to hear what they would have to say. That activity has been replaced with my morning perusal of favorite bloggers and what they have posted since I last visited. Since we are not professional writers, there are times when I might skip through some parts that aren't all that interesting to me. I'm sure my readers do the same. But I always visit. They, too, are living their lives out in the open, with a window into their thought patterns, their homes, their interests, likes and dislikes. It's a wonderful world that didn't even exist a few years ago, and it satisfies my need for connection in ways I never could have imagined.
It also makes me vulnerable to criticism. Although I've got some pretty strong opinions about almost everything, I try very hard to avoid hot-button issues such as politics and religion (to name a few). I have blogging friends who had to shut down their blogs because of the vitriol some unkind people have unloaded on them, just because they expressed opinions someone didn't agree with. You can moderate who can comment on your blogs and remove offensive comments, but sometimes it can hit a person hard to learn that there are people out there who are angry and hurtful and will do whatever they can to make you suffer.
I get my share of comments I delete, but most of them are spam, not angry and filled with hate. But I do get those occasionally; it jolts me and makes me wonder if it's worth attracting people like that into my sphere, just to have this window into my life that has no real purpose. But then some kind and dear friend will leave me a comment that makes my heart soar with gratitude and love.
It's worth it, all right. I'll continue to live my life out in the open. Remember that we are all in this together and let's concentrate on the good parts. I hope your coming week will be filled with trees in blossom and daffodils peeking up through the earth, just like I've got happening here in the Pacific Northwest.