Wow. I've been blogging for just over three years and I've come up on 500 posts. Seems like a good time to sing the praises of blogging :-)
Well, before I started blogging, I didn't *get it* -- the first time I heard of it, I even thought it sounded *lame* -- like, people posting their diaries for the world to see? A little self-indulgent, don't you think?
But then I started reading a blog -- it was Christine Mason Miller's (aka "Swirly Girl") -- and from there I discovered a few others, and I began to realize what blogging IS. It's a way of finding your "tribe" -- and I began to find mine. Some of us are lucky to find our tribes in our daily lives, in our home towns. Some of us are not. I have moved many many times in my life, and I have had to start from scratch over and over, making new friends, so I learned how to do it early on. And I've always been lucky to meet fantastic friends wherever I've lived. But. That doesn't mean I always had "a tribe," not the way I do now -- a big, vital group of kindred spirits who explore and create and read and write and raise cool kids and knit and decorate houses and SHARE IT ALL. It's phenomenal.
Those who don't blog can't understand; they doubt these are real friendships, but *we* know better. What begins just in the comments section flows over into email and phone calls and to meeting in person, sometimes for lunch downtown, sometimes halfway around the world. And if you've met a blog friend in person you know this to be true: the first time you meet face to face, there's no awkwardness; you already know each other. It's easy. You hug and fall effortlessly into conversation; you already know so much about each other. You know what questions to ask.
This space here has been incredibly important to me over the past three years -- for building a tribe and for spurring my writing in new directions, for talking books and art, getting inspired by other people's travels and cooking and parenting and life adventures large and small. And then, this being an offshoot of life, you will also inevitably come upon the suffering of others, as life unfurls its tragedies and reveals all its textures and colors -- and there is much to be learned. I've long believed that readers of fiction are more empathetic people than non-readers, because in devouring stories, we learn that all lives are not like our own; we see the way paths can lead people in directions we ourselves could never have imagined. We learn how complex it all is, how magical and terrible, and how we can't use our own lives as a standard for judging all other lives. Reading blogs isn't reading fiction -- it's something more immediate, much more real, and it's fraught with things like jealousy over the *better* lives of others and their successes, and also empathy for their tragedies, and a context check for the things we need to remember to be grateful for: our health, the health of our loved ones, and what a matter of LUCK our happiness can be.
So, to my tribe: thank you for everything you've taught me, and thank you for participating in my life, for your support of my successes and your sympathy for my sorrows.