There’s an ongoing debate concerning the online world so many of us spend so much of our time in. Be it Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or blogging … some ask, “What’s the point of it all?”.
I have two answers:
1) You get out of it what you put in, so perhaps if you see no return the problem is not the medium – but the user.
2) Community. Perceived or real, these mediums we spend time involved in online can be a community. Different, yes – than the people in our towns we meet for coffee, drinks or golf. However, a community just the same.
Whereas the people I went to high school and college with were friends often by default, through circumstance – the people I befriend on Twitter and Tumblr are people I CHOOSE to know because I WANT to know them. There’s a consciousness to the choices I make online that cannot always exist in face-to-face interaction. It’s become the “white elephant in the room” when I see people now who don’t twitter, aren’t bloggers and don’t have a Tumblr. If they speak up and question how I spend my time [most seem quietly judgmental] I find myself explaining over and over why I do what I do for a living. Over and over, I’m misunderstood and over time it’s helped me to make my peace with being misunderstood and accept my new life because it’s one of my choosing!!!
Now, some of my best friends on this earth are people I first met – online. And … there’s a particular blogger-turned-author who has changed me – and my world – in a huge way, for the better.
The White Elephant in the Room, in this case, is a person. Also, a Tumblr. And a story, that has impacted me in such a profound way – I’ll never look at grief and loss the same way ever again. I’ll probably also never delete my Tumblr even though that’s the one medium I have the least patience for. If I stop participating in Tumblr, to a certain extent – I’d stop being a part of the community that surrounds The White Elephant in the Room. Since Tre is someone I’ve gotten to know outside the high walls of our Tumblr streams, that would break my heart.
I joined Tumblr just over a year ago, in March 2010. My first post was a video of Suzanne Santo singing “honeyhoney, don’t know how“. I didn’t think about my voice before I joined. Or even after I joined. I just knew I wanted an outlet online where I could be somewhat private and a bit anonymous most of the time, share things that inspired me and sometimes vent about the reality of my life which wasn’t always beautiful. My divorce had just been finalized. Some days were good. Some, not. Mostly, I swam in an ocean of grief and dreamed of traveling the world like Elizabeth Gilbert but knowing I didn’t want to do it like she did. Some days I cursed travel for bringing people into my life, who hurt me deeper even … than my ex-husband ever had.
Then in May, I found Tre’s Tumblr. It was then I learned what grief really is. What it’s not. What it can do. What it can’t.
Featured photo of Tré and Alberto courtesy Tré Miller Rodríguez.
Suddenly, I felt less alone. Less sorry for myself. Less hopeless. I don’t have the same story as Tre. However, we both have stories of loss. We’re both women. We’re both driving down the highway of life not always knowing what our next pitstop will be or even, sometimes, what the end destination is. We have good days and bad days, still. Yet, we keep driving. We know that forward motion is the key.
I should say, that I know that – because of Tre.
She taught me to put one foot in front of the other. Not to know that’s a good idea [cause let’s be honest, I already knew that] – but to actually put it into practice. She also taught me to hope for the kind of love she had with Alberto – however brief. It’s the kind of love that makes all the difference. These days I’m usually putting one foot in front of the other onto a plane or off it, into some unknown country or city but…
either way, I keep living and believing real love is out there because Tre inspired me to understand that the presence of grief in my past [or my present] doesn’t have to stop me or define me.