Today I had lunch with a dear friend and was reminded of what is real; sometimes we get so busy living life that we get caught up in all the “stuff” that even for someone who strives to be mindful, it’s easy to lose sight of what is real. While catching up, my friend shared how she has basically given up her online life and how good that feels, you would have to know my friend to understand what a huge statement that was. Like me she is someone who has been online for years, in fact she started blogging back in the late 1990’s and being online was just a part of her life. Instead she is finding joy in life offline and by the looks of it doing quite well.
I was just reflecting on our meeting today when I think I realized why I have been dancing around the idea of saying good bye to this space. It no longer feels real to me, oh, I am very real. The me that writes these words and rants on twitter is the same me that meets with foundation heads and bank vice presidents to raise money to serve families in need. The me in this space is the same messy me that the Spousal Unit has lived with for 15 years, I no longer compartmentalize myself, I am simply me. I will adjust myself up or down depending on my surroundings much like we turn up the volume on the radio but the station stays the same. The greatest gift of approaching middle age is I accept me in all my messy glory and carry it with me wherever I go, even when I fuck up and trust me I do fuck up.
The problem is that no longer do I feel in my online life am I surrounded by other real people, when I first discovered blogs, I felt I met real people. 10 years ago online I stumbled across a group of women who to this day I care deeply about, but gone are those days. Oh, there are a handful of readers of this space and folks in spaces such as twitter who I think are as real as I am. By and large though most online folks I encounter I feel they are caricatures of people who are attempting to work their brand, they only wear their public face and that face is one of perfection or carefully calculated imperfection. There is not a thing wrong with that but it’s not where I am in my life nor what I wish to be around.
The work I do professionally is draining and as the economic crisis worsens in this country, the pain and misery I now see on a daily basis is hard to swallow. How do I reconcile seeing children with no shoes, giving a child extra food to eat at home because his parents food stamps have ran out and he doesn’t have enough to eat yet being part of something where there is such excess that for the simple task of leaving a comment on a blog, I can win something? How do I overcome the offers that flood my in-box for free useless gadgets or samples yet know that in my real world there are 10 kids sleeping on the floor of an apartment in a bedbug infested building? The excesses of online life simply don’t jive with my offline world. I am almost a year out of bankruptcy and while my financial life is starting to turn around, it’s a slow process. Living life online reminds me of my own scarcity and if I am not on top of it creates the types of feelings and thoughts that frankly I don’t need.
So much like my dear friend, I find myself wondering about saying good bye to it all, yet the writer in me loves the freedom that spaces such as mine offer. I started journaling by hand again and while it’s been wonderful and incredibly freeing, I admit blogging has its joys too. If only I could shut out all the voices that don’t seem real, yet that’s not how life operates instead we have to take everything, and make it work somehow.