A headline on the front page of the Styles section in this past Sunday New York Times caught my attention: “Forging A Bond In Mud And Guts”. It was a story about “Tough Mudder”. Which is, as Joshua David Stein (the writer) explains, “an extreme obstacle course that is becoming the macho sport of choice for Type A men (and some women) who find marathons too easy and triathlons meh”.
My interest in the story had nothing to do with any desire, on my part, to roll around in the mud. Not even with some hunky ‘warrior’ type. I was intrigued by the pulling together, the teamwork and the camaraderie between these guys. And also by the encouragement they gave each other. Even though, for the most part, they’d entered the event as strangers.
They were bonding. It was instinctive. Primal. In this case, it was happening because of the gruelling challenges they were putting themselves through. Workouts, at their most extreme.
Instantly I thought about my experiences here, on WordPress. About the people I’m ‘meeting’. All of whom are total strangers. And by that, I mean, we have never met in person. Never seen each other ‘in the flesh’. We’ve never gone for coffee. Or a drink. Met for lunch or brunch or dinner. Enjoyed the companionable silence of a walk. Shared a bench, in the park.
And we probably never will.
Yet, like the ‘mudders’ we, too, are forging bonds. The difference is, our bonds aren’t about the ‘physical’. We’re not pushing our bodies to the max. We’re pushing our minds, our intellect, our talent, our spirits and souls to the limit. Our love of telling stories is what’s bringing us together. Storytelling is our bond. Regardless of how we tell them. Regardless of ‘how’ we express ourselves. Whether it’s through art. Or photography. Writing essays. Or poetry. Short stories. Or flash fiction.
Through the sharing of recipes. Or music. Personal experiences. Times of adversity. And triumph. New beginnings. And endings. Hopes. And dreams. Fears. And desires. Political discourse. Spirituality. Or religious beliefs. Ours is a bond of pain and sorrow. Laughter and joy. Love and loss. Ups and downs. In sickness and good health. Through marriage. Divorce. Birth. Death. Even thoughts on re-birth. We share it all here on WordPress. We put ourselves, and our thoughts, out there. For all to see.
What fascinates me, though, is that we find each other. How we find each other. Whether it’s through the use of ‘tags’ or ‘categories’. Simultaneous publishing on Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr; or everything else that’s available to us, to help carry our messages to the masses. Whether it’s through the recommendations of friends, because we leave comments on other blogs, or just plain serendipity.
The point is, we find each other.
We come together from as far away as India. Australia. The Far East. The Middle East. And Europe. We come together from all over the United States and Canada. From as close by, as streets or blocks from where we live. It’s astonishing. Amazing. And as Claire, ‘Word by Word‘, whose stories can be found here, expressed so perfectly to me on Sunday, “It is indeed a wonderful universe, the blogosphere, so much more full of like-minded souls than any other physical meeting place could ever be.”
When we like what we read, we check back, to see what’s new. That leads to ‘following’. Subscribing. ‘Liking’. Sometimes ‘re-blogging’. And commenting. Conversations begin. Discussions abound. Suggestions are offered. Encouragement given. Experiences shared. Jokes exchanged.
Bonds are formed. And as untraditional, as unorthodox as they may be, so are friendships. Relationships that, in all probability, will never extend beyond this WordPress world of ours. Which does nothing to diminish their significance in our lives.
In some ways, we are closer to each other, than we are to those we can reach out and touch. Because we share WordPress. We’re here for the same reason. In this regard, we’re soul mates. In this regard, we understand each other. Far better than those who haven’t experienced this world. Those who aren’t as compelled as we are to bare their souls. Make others cry. And laugh. And nod their heads in agreement. Or disagreement.
Kindred spirits. That’s what we are. And it is really nice to know you.