While hanging out a group of friends recently, I had an extremely flattering experience. Somehow somebody mentioned my blog in passing and the other three people chimed in with their opinions and how they liked it. And I was flabbergasted (that word deserves a comeback and it captures the emotions of that moment perfectly) to the point where the friend who brought it up asked me “did you not think anyone actually read it?”
Partially. I mean, I see the stats confirming that my site gets traffic, but I still don’t think I’ll ever get over the shock that people beyond my supportive family would actually take the time to read my writing. But the thing that shocks me the most is also my absolute favorite thing about this blog: that the people who read it are the never the type you’d expect.
What I mean by that is, most blogs that have any sort of religious affiliation/religious words in the title only get read by people in that niche, people looking to read something explicitly religious or dealing with a political issue from a religious perspective, etc. But the majority of people who read my blog aren’t Catholic- and that’s awesome! I mean I’m always willing to share my faith because I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s the best thing that ever happened to me, but so much Catholic/Christian writing is geared towards other Catholic/Christian readers. That is not in itself a bad thing, but I see no reason for exclusivity. Because when I read Catholic/Christian writing it makes sense to me because I come from that background, but I worry that to the atheists and agnostics and people with no identifiable religion such pieces would look like Mandarin (i.e. another language), and they give up on it/become as discouraged as I would be if someone ever asked me to learn fluent Mandarin. (I picked Mandarin as an example specifically because I’ve heard that it’s difficult to master and is not a romance language so the same rules I’ve always followed when learning a language in the past would not apply).
So when I write my blog I get so excited when non-Catholics read it because learning a religion is a lot like learning a language in that before you can speak it confidently you must first learn to decipher what it means from a variety of sources, written text, verbal communication, in context of culture and community, and often in light of the ancient origins as well.
And I’m glad that even non-Catholics can come and enjoy what I’ve translated so far because with God each chapter somehow becomes better than the last. And the adventures I chronicle on this blog I am happy to share with whoever wants to wander the path along with me. Because I’ve always believed that time is our vessel, not our dwelling place and that the essence of true religion is simply a soul’s journey home. And the more that share the road with me the better the better the story becomes.
So today I had a really nice sit-down chat with one of the guys on my company’s maintenance staff and he was sharing with me how he was teaching his son how to play drums. He is quite musical himself and plays drums for his church, but his love of music actually started with the guitar when he was around his son’s age, which is why he is so willing to oblige when his son asks him for lessons.
So of course this warranted the purchase of a sweet set of drums for the both of them (he showed me a picture) and it was great to see his face light up while he talked about his passion for music. People with secret passions (within the bounds of moral and civil law) make me so happy. Like, here’s a guy who fixes things for a living and he is quite good at it, but now I can picture him playing music all the time. It’s his outlet, one of the things he enjoys most about living, and he practices regularly and with dedication. Even though he leads a very humble life with his family, I know many more affluent people who would pay to feel like that about something, to have something capture their soul like that. And it was sweet because this man admitted that he’s seen others turning to alcohol, drugs, and things like that but that for him, it’s always been music. And his smile was so sincere I could almost see the halo.
But I wanted to pay a special tribute to the music man, for reminding me on an ordinary Thursday afternoon what life is all about.
There really isn’t one.
But blogs who claim to have it get hundreds of thousands of views and shares. (which is just a touch more than I get, lol)
But fear not, I have a very different definition of success than most people and I’m very content with this blog and very flattered that even one person takes the time to read it, much less a few thousand- so thank you!
Because I think in our globally connected society we think just a little too big. You’re not a success unless you influence millions. You’re not wealthy unless you live like a Kardashian. Your political movement didn’t work unless it abolished everything you disagreed with by the next day and ended poverty to boot.
You may think I’m exaggerating, and maybe I was a little, but it was done to make a point. The point that this train of thought breeds apathy and ingratitude. It hardens the heart to the world around us and the plight of others. It makes us think that unless we can do everything we shouldn’t do anything. And that’s just foolish because I can’t think of a better way to suck the joy out of living.
Instead, I would echo something closer to the theme of Schindler’s list, that “he who saves one man saves the world.” Because while we’re so busy being big we forget to enjoy being small, and full of wonder like a child. We forget to smile at the stranger sitting next to us or be happy at the smallest act of kindness that someone does for us or that we do for someone else. We forget that sometimes life has a little bit of magic in it, and it sits in plain sight if we would only just remember to look for it.
And that’s why I really don’t care whether this blog gets a hundred views or a hundred thousand views in a day, because when I was little if the person next to me agreed to read one of my stories I would sit breathless with anticipation, not because I was looking to change the world, but because I was simply hoping that when they read it they would see the magic too.