My friend Todd and I were talking the other day about the fact that our relationship began via the internet… we corresponded for about six months before we met face-to-face (because he lives in London) and we’ve been terribly close ever since. I maintain that had we met in person first, we wouldn’t be so close, as emailing someone who doesn’t really know you is sort of like therapy… you let out your true feelings and thoughts, where you might not in person (for fear of being judged or laughed at or slapped upside the head). Todd can be a tad annoying at times in person (oh, don’t look so aghast, you… you know it’s true) and I’m not sure I would have tried hard to get past the persona he shows the world… but the person he let me see via his words is someone I love and respect and expect to be a part of my life forever. I’ve been incredibly lucky on the whole online relationship front, really… I’ve met some of the people dearest to me that way. Todd thinks that’s unusual… I don’t really, not given the level of importance now placed on the internet by most of us. And I think that when two people who communicate well in writing connect, and if they have things in common (especially their core values and senses of humor), a friendship (or more) is bound to develop. Right Levi? ;) The internet gives us the ability to cross boundaries we wouldn’t be able to cross otherwise… and that’s an amazing thing. I don’t think that internet connections should replace the flesh-and-blood connections in our lives… but I think it’s a good way to make even more ‘real’ connections than you might otherwise, in a world that is so very big, and so very small, all at the same time.
I’ve just spent the last half hour crying my eyes out while reading about one of my favorite connections. I’ve mentioned his blog to you all before… ‘Baldy’s Blog’ (link to the left), which belongs to Adrian Sudbury, a young guy who lives in England and has chronicled his experience with cancer online. I don’t know Adrian personally, and though I’ve sent my well-wishes in response to several of his postings, I’ve never carried on a conversation with him. Neither have most of the hundreds upon hundreds (maybe even thousands) of people he touches every day, all over the world, with his words. But still, we ‘know’ him. He is an amazing man… when diagnosed with cancer, he decided not to just sit back and take it; not even to simply fight the disease… he decided to make what time he had left as productive as it could be and started off on a campaign to make the facts about bone marrow donation known in the UK, especially to young people still in school. He’s gained national attention and the campaign has garnered massive support from all sorts of people including politicians of the highest rank.
I spent this morning crying because Adrian is dying… his doctors have told him he only has a few weeks left. He’s taking care of his final good-byes and spending time with his family and friends. What is so amazing to me is the sheer number of people who love and admire this man… people who have never met him and never will. They come from all walks of life and every corner of the planet… they send him their love and their prayers and their well-wishes every day… they, like me, check in on him first thing in the morning and breathe a sigh of relief when he’s posted and he sounds good… and they sigh in sadness when there’s a note that describes a particularly awful or painful day. He has brought people together in a way we sometimes forget is possible because we are so busy taking care of the stuff that makes up our lives. Reading the responses to his posts has given me hope in and for a world that sometimes seems hopeless. It makes me remember that people are inherently good and that most of us really do care about others. It makes me remember that in the grand scheme of things, my problems are petty and far from insurmountable, and that I just need to get over my damned self sometimes. And it makes me very happy to be a part of a global community – one connected by the worldwide web.