I graduated college never having had an e-mail address.
Some vague sense of what the World Wide Web was only beginning to creep like fog into the edges of my consciousness. My house still had a black rotary dial phone that felt heavy in my hand and made the most satisfying whir and solid clunking thunk when I made a call.
Wiser folks than I have struggled to express how all our myriad tools of connectedness have sped or shrunk or simply changed life. All I can say is that I waded into adulthood in a landscape that felt different than it does now, and I struggle to name and navigate it. I sometimes feel a creeping discomfort, even now when I am writing a blog post. How real is all this? Does the energy and intention I put into this space, into the online world as a whole, steal my presence from the here, from the dough I can knead with these two hands and the laundry basket I lift, and, far more important, the very much in person hearts I’ve been given to nurture up close?
So this rule lover has wanted a law, a stand, a line in the sand. I’ve gone silent for long spaces, shut down the screen and only answered e-mail than needed my personal attention. Made pronouncements. (Oh, how I love pronouncements. Though, they sound more convincing if you’re not still trying to figure out your own mind.)
And yet, there are genuine connections on these digital highways, as beautiful and clinging as webs themselves. You’re real people on the other side of these screens. A few of us have hugged one another, sat on a porch together. We’ve exchanged e-mails like letters and even letters too, from our real kitchen counters and back patios and beating hearts.
And there is, quite literally, a world of inspiration and kinship for all the things I love doing. Making home, feeding my family, raising my boys, embroidering and photographing and writing and living well. Loving God and longing for a life infused with grace. Living a one piece life.
So, this law lover has to bend, get a little more creative, admit that integrating the virtual into the real is the path to navigate. In relation and in inspiration, how to breathe real life into these pixels?
A couple of thoughts:
- In online relationship, I’ll strive for revelation and authenticity. These media give us a lot of latitude to window dress our lives for those who don’t live with us day in and day out. I have plenty of boundaries concerning what I share, but I want to be genuine in what I do choose to “put out there.”
- I’ll ask myself how I can translate the gifts I try to share with my local folks into the online world. How best to spread beauty and encouragement? How can I point to others who do as well?
- And finally, ahem, about all that inspiration lurking in the black holes of my bookmarks folders. . . I’m challenging myself to take a higher percentage of those decor projects, art and craft tutorials, and tasty recipes from the “eye candy” to the “realized” column.
The first two challenges are largely a matter of conscience. Do I recognize myself on the Internet?
For the third, I’m trying out an online tool to help me move from “out of sight, out of mind” to “make and do” I’m using Pinterest to excavate the forgotten riches in my bookmarks folders and organize them visually onto themed online pinboards. My idea is simple– if I can see all those ideas, there’s a greater chance that some of those links might be translated into fabric and paint, photos and flour. Move into the real.
I’m sure many of you have figured out this balancing dance, how to be present in the right places for the right amount of time, and in ways that are life giving. I’m stumbling a bit, banging my knees, but a map is starting the emerge.
Don’t live distracted.
Make it real.
Keep it real.