This entity, this blog, would never have come into being without the original "AOL Journal" concept, launched onto the (then considerably smaller) Internet Sea back in 2003. I stowed away on that ship almost the minute it hit the water; eventually, I became brave enough to venture out of my hiding place on board and sidle up to the community that had established itself and grown there. Here on this ethereal page, I have repeatedly analyzed the schizophrenic attraction of internet relationships; and subsequently, lamented long and hard the demise of our original "AOL j-land" community.
Oh, blog "communities," continue to thrive. But they are based upon specific things, common interests such as religion, politics, careers, ethnicity, hobbies… whatever. "Journal Land" was singular in that it was a community tied together by nothing more than the place itself. And what a tremendous place it was to learn and to grow. I "met" great friends there, of diverse interests and far-flung geography. Friends with whom I continue to communicate, though not as intimately as during those extraordinary days of the infancy of internet society.
About the same time as I reached for my dream of owning my own business, two of my close j-land friends also grabbed hold of similar brass rings in their own lives—which events were all well-documented in our respective blogs. Three souls connected by those strong yet mysterious ethereal ties, set about to achieve the goals of a lifetime. Each believing, at the outset, that she was embarking upon the path of true fulfillment.
Five years down the road, we find ourselves…somewhere. A place that is not entirely where we believed we were headed when we started out. Observers not in the know might venture that we had failed; we did not achieve the desires of our hearts. We are not lying back upon our laurels, satisfied, fulfilled. But, oh…what we have learned. And are learning still. We are, in fact, accomplishing what life is all about: Growth.
In my own situation, I can only be humbly grateful for the perspective this loosely-yet-tightly-knit community has given me on the events of the last five years. Because I am certain that, absent the firsthand knowledge that things don't always work out for everybody (not just me)…I would, right now, be paralyzed with doubt and self-loathing. Time and time again, in my solitary and circumscribed little life, I have run head-on into barriers, or failed miserably at some undertaking, and come away with the myopic conclusion that, "I suck at everything." (If I had a dollar for every time I've wailed, "I can't do ANYTHING right!" I'd be a rich woman.) But this time, THIS time, I have been allowed to share similar learning experiences in lives of people I care about. So, the closing of my restaurant becomes, rather than a mortifying personal failure, simply another example of life happening to someone who stepped out and took a risk; who reached for a prize, and ended up with…a prize, perhaps—but not the one that was the original target.
So I thank these two friends; you may or may not know who you are. You are so special to me.
We have learned, in our parallel universes, that you can't not. Write. Live. Learn. Grow.
May we continue to inspire one another.