I wrote my first blog on the anniversary of my mother’s death because I woke up hearing her say, “It’s time to write your stories.” That was interesting, because when I was a kid and wanted to be a writer, my mother discouraged it. That morning as I drove by the cemetery where she is buried, a story came on the radio about blog communities changing the lonely life of a writer. When I went on-line that night, the only blog site I remembered was “Open Salon”.
I opened an account and chose the name “MimeTalker” because I was a mime performer who wanted to “talk”. Later I wrote a blog about that, but my first piece was about my mother’s death and within seconds of posting it, one person gave it a “thumbs up” and left a comment. Her mother had died, and this resonated with her. I was surprised how good that made me feel.
For almost three years I have been blogging stories on Open Salon. These are the stories I tell friends as we are getting to know each other… the week I thought I was an alien because I had an out-of-body experience…the difficulty my parents had when all three children joined the Baha’i Faith…my inter-racial marriage and the racist doctor who unsuccessfully tried to keep me from having babies.
There are thousands of Open Salon members and they are from varied cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Most are Americans, but I know people from Canada, France, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, South Africa, and Kenya. Many are artists (writers, photographers, graphic artists, painters, poets, singers, and me, the mime), but there are also doctors, kindergarten teachers, yogis, college students and professors, caterers, civil rights activists, mechanics, ranchers, stay-at-home mothers, stay-at-home fathers, recovering addicts, retirees by choice, unemployed job hunters, and a school lunch lady who everyone loves.
There are people I read regularly, and they read me. When they write about challenges, I give encouraging comments and pray for them. When they work through the hardships I commend them. In real-life conversations I often reference what one of them “told” me. At first I felt embarrassed explaining who my friend was, but I don’t anymore.
Like any community, Open Salon isn’t perfect. Someone will write an insensitive comment on a blog and the blogger will write a snarky reply. Then other people chime in and it becomes what is called a “dust up”. As in every human interaction, it works best to follow the spiritual teaching found in every faith: treat others as you wish to be treated. Eventually someone will write a blog to remind people of that and the dust settles.
I write, and my blog community responds. If what I say makes them laugh or cry or think, they tell me, and I do the same for them. Reading other people’s stories confirms that we are at our essence, one people. We all have fears, regrets, and hopes. No matter what relationship we have with our parents, we think about them. We love and worry about our children and wish we could have some do-overs. We grieve losses, celebrate births, and try to make sense out of the seemingly senseless.
The day my niece died, I wrote a blog before I called friends. My Open Salon community knew her because I had written about her battle with brain cancer and my struggle to accept what was coming. Writing and sharing with them helped me get my thoughts together. Their outpouring of support carried me through that first day. Every time I went on-line, there were more comments and condolences. They remarked on the beautiful spirit they felt through the stories and photos. She died so young. It helped to know her life stretched and touched people she didn’t have the time to meet.
I love my friends and family and would never trade them for my internet friends, but fortunately that’s just a theoretical choice. In real life, I get both.