I was having a conversation last night with an online acquaintance about writing. Specifically, we chatted briefly about my blog, my writing. We've been chatting off and on for the last couple of years. I never knew he was a writer until recently, and vice versa. After a long absence from being in touch, we recently connected again in online conversation, asking and answering the usual questions about how our lives had been going. I told him I'd been writing, that I created a blog, and it was then he shared that he is a writer as well. He asked for my blog address, and I gave it to him, then let it go, with no expectation whatsoever that he'd take a look.
Not only did he look, he gave some feedback.
I'll be honest...when I saw him online last night, the farthest thing from my mind was whether he'd read my blog. It wasn't even a thought. So when I reached out to say howdy, the last thing I expected was his response to be that he'd read my blog. With that one statement, everything in me came to a halt. I found myself suddenly feeling suspended. I almost didn't want to talk to him anymore...forever. Yet there I was, caught between a desire to know what he thought, or to slam that door shut, or better yet, not answer it at all. I waited, to see if he had more to say, but that's all he said, that he read my blog...and a huge part of me was like....AND...? How can someone just make a statement like that with nothing else following? Was he waiting for a response? I didn't want to give it. I didn't know what to give! The silence within that moment was agonizing as I struggled with deciding what to do with him. It crossed my mind that he might be over there wondering how he himself was going to get out of the moment? Was he saying to himself, "Shit, I knocked on that door, now what do I tell her if she opens it?"
Finally, I decided to go with the simple truth, and told him I didn't know how to respond, because I felt surprised he'd read my blog at all, which in turn surprised him. He asked about my reaction, and with me still feeling hedgey, I felt my brain start to hurt, because the conversation was beginning to lean toward tricky ground. I didn't understand why it was tricky ground, I just knew it was. Again, I decided for honesty, took a deep breath, and plunged in by answering that I don't receive a whole lot of support for this particular endeavor, from friends, family, or strangers alike. With the exception of maybe one or two, it's viewed more like a fluffy hobby among the people I know, who haven't even bothered to read it, much less give me any feedback. So being in that type of environment, I told him, kind of forced me to do away with expectations, which I found made me feel better, because I experienced less disappointment that way. He understood, as any fellow writer would, and said feedback was like food for a writer.
And that's when I understood my initial reaction to his statement that he'd read my blog.
I was more hungry than I thought. I didn't realize how hungry I was until that very moment. I'd been putting that hunger on the backburner, ignoring it, denying it's existence within me, in an attempt to deal with the lack of response I've received to whatever I put out here. I know I have readers. Anyone who blogs knows they have readers, because we all have basic meters giving us stats on the traffic we get to our blogs. While I'm happy, and grateful I have readers who follow my blog, and a handful of subscribers, I wonder at times why I don't hear from them. In fact, if not for Estrella, from Life's A Stage, unknowingly saving the day with a comment here, this blog would have been deleted several times over. Yet those are folks I don't know up close and personal, and I understand I have to earn my way into this field. So I haven't wondered about them as much as I've wondered about the complete lack of support I've received from those who claim to know and love me. As soon as I get a "real" job, they're all over that, as if I suddenly joined the ranks of the living again after a long absence of being ill.
Truthfully, I suddenly didn't care if my online friend liked my blog or not. He was at least going to give me some feedback, anything. I've been running across this kind of scenario often of late. And it's not just about writing. I've encountered it at work, ( my "real" job ), and in personal relationships. And it's not just about me. I've been hearing others talk about it. What is this lack of reflection? What is this lack of response, feedback, like their voices, their very being, their presence isn't even noticed.
It's dreams. They aren't feeling seen, or heard, when the dream tucked in their heart isn't supported, or when it's treated with disdain, or worse, apathy. Dreams have always been important to me. Connecting with them, doing them. I had a recent conversation with my daughter, and was sharing with her my decision to give my roommate some money toward his dream for his birthday. I noticed he wasn't getting a lot of support toward it, and I saw that, in his spirit, he was beginning to go to the "fuck it" place. That's a no go place for me. And can kill a person's spirit faster than anything else on the planet. May as well put up cross bones and a skull, with the word poison on that particular area within us. He was so grateful, and I felt grateful that I had the money to give. My daughter's response to it was simply, "Thank you, Mama." I have to admit her response confused me, so I asked her why it was she was thanking me. She said, "Because you supported his dream. You did something about it. It's important." I still don't quite understand her gratitude, but the message is clear...we all need support with our dreams. We need to know someone finds it just as important as we do. We need it recognized by others, and uplifted. We need that.
Not long ago, I said to a friend regarding my writing,
"I don't know who I'm speaking to anymore. I like a two way conversation. I like connecting. If one person is doing all the talking, then how is that a conversation? I feel like I'm just talking to myself on my blog. Not really reaching anyone, connecting with anyone. I could talk to myself all day long if that's what it was all about for me. But it isn't. Never has been. What good is that? I'm in a conundrum."
We need feedback. We need support for our dreams. We need that reflection, or our dreams just die a slow death, and we find ourselves wandering, doing jobs we don't want to do, feeling divided. No one realizes, or manifests, a dream all by himself. There is always support and encouragement along the way, whether they choose to recognize it or not.
What did my online friend say? He said he liked it, and named a particular poem I wrote. It may seem a small thing, a small remark from someone I haven't even met, but it's enough to keep me going in my dream. It's enough to keep me walking one more mile.