Monday, April 27, 2009

Blogorama: Of Free Speech and Miracles


When I first started writing, there was no internet and thus no blogging, and thus no everyday opportunity to opinionate--or bloviate, as the case may be. If we were lucky, our opinions would be published in our local newspaper's "Letters to the Editor", and we would be thrilled to see ourselves in print. If we were really lucky, we might secure a space on the Op-Ed page and actually get paid a few dollars a column to write about anything that popped into our wee little heads.

I did that for a few years, and while I worked hard at it and was every bit as passionate about the world around me as I am now, the chance for any meaningful readership numbers was about as slim as my chance to win the PowerBall.

Still, I wrote--and gave it all I had.

Now I write here, not out of any sense of ego or authority, but because I have something to say and I can do it for free on the World Wide Web. That's a concept that's pretty astonishing. (Okay, there may be a bit of ego--let's face it, how could it be otherwise? But I claim no authority.)

The downside to this freedom to bloviate is that the WWW is an equal opportunity monster of humungous proportions. A jillion people can set up a jillion blogs and do the same thing I'm doing right here, right now. I'm exquisitely aware that to be one in a jillion is to be nothing at all. A mere speck in the sands of exaltation.

But still I write--and give it all I have.

The upside of creating a blog, besides the obvious one of writing your heart out with the knowledge that you'll be "published", no matter what, is that you soon find yourself in amongst a community of like-minded bloggers who will pay attention to your blog if you'll pay attention to theirs.

As pathetic as that may sound, it's actually a terrific system, leading to all manner of serendipitous discoveries.

I "met" one such blogger by reading her comment on another blog, which I discovered when that blogger commented on mine. I went to her blog (Preserve, Protect and Defend) and commented on her comment and now she occasionally comments on mine, while I do the same on hers. She calls herself "Two Crows", which is fine with me. I don't need to know her real name to appreciate her writing. The point is, I never would have found her if not for the intricate, intertwining paths of the blogosphere.

Robert Reich has what he calls his "personal journal" through Blogspot. I was thrilled to find it, because he writes the way I would want to write if I had the talent, and more times than not I get to shout "Amen" while I'm reading him. But more important, he's using the exact same template that I chose for my blog. His is spare and elegant and at the same time welcoming--the perfect showcase for his words--while mine. . .well, you'll just have to take my word for it that we started out on the same page.

But the reason I bring any of this up is because I still haven't gotten over an extraordinary, spontaneous happening last week among the TPM Cafe bloggers on Talking Points Memo. I'm a blogger newbie on that site, so I have no real history there. I don't know any of the bloggers well yet, but I liked what I saw there from the first day I found the site.

One blogger in particular--dickday--stood out because he was funny and so very clever--a kind of modern day chronicler of deliciously skewed Arthurian legend. He commented on a couple of my blogs and was incredibly kind and welcoming. I was nervous as hell to be among such smart people so I latched onto one of them--dickday--and followed him wherever he went.

Last week his regular posts just stopped. So did his always amusing comments. I vaguely wondered where he was but I didn't pay too much attention. Everybody understands that blogging can be every day or it can be sporadic. Apparently with dickday, it had come to be a regular event, almost like clockwork, and his followers were worried.

Then began a search the likes of which we've never seen since Stanley went looking for Livingstone.

After a day or so of scurrying around, someone finally heard from him. His computer had crashed and he was sending a feeble message from the wilds of his local library. dickday without a World Wide quill. Unthinkable! But money was tight and using the library as his home base was out of the question.

That's when the Cafe bloggers went into action. Within minutes (or so it seemed) someone had come up with the idea to find dickday a computer. Within a few more minutes someone offered a perfectly good CPU. Before long a PayPal fund was set up for donations toward the necessary extras, things were packed and shipped and someone who lived a few hours away volunteered to go over and set it up. The entire thing was a marvel in efficiency--Whoosh! Things happened.

But what was breathtaking to me was the caring, the concern, the compassion. I honestly have never seen anything like it in all my years on forums anywhere. So, I'm hoping they won't mind (because I and a few others were hesitant at first to make this so public), but this is my tribute to those folks who took it upon themselves to honor someone they have never met, and who did it with such extreme joy and such absolute good will.

Times are tough and it's easy to be cynical about the world we live in and the people we meet along the way. This was good. It was so good. If it doesn't qualify as a true miracle, it's probably as close as I'll ever get to seeing one.

Bravo to those good folks. May they ever keep joy in their hearts and a penny in their pockets. And may dickday get those fingers tapping and tell us a tale for the times.

(cross-posted at Talking Points Memo here)

9 comments:

Neena said...

Ramona,
Haven't heard from you in a while and was pleased to read this piece of serendipity. In this world today, to see a selfless act and one of action and resolve is indeed special. I will have to look up DickDay, imagine the stories he will be able to tell.
My thoughts on the Blogosphere is that it is an opportunity and a level playing field for those wanting this expression and feeling the need to share comments. I think when we look back at the history of "peoples" that we encounter this need to speak, to share, to tell a story and to give a rendering and to make people laugh, cry and be inspired.
Best wishes, Neena

Ramona Grigg said...

Hi Neena, you can meet dickday and the other TPM Cafe bloggers by clicking on the links in my piece. They're quite a bunch. I cross-post the pieces I write here and usually get a lot of great comments.

Two Crows writes a mean blog, too. Blogging at its best is story telling, even when the purpose is to push an opinion. Yes, some are banal and silly, but with so many out there it's easy to pick and choose. I'm pleasantly surprised at how many good writers there are out here in the blogosphere. It's a veritable feast!

Thanks for commenting. It's good to see you back here.

two crows said...

wow. astounding! what a community can do. maybe, together, we can make this old world a better place.
this group sure did.
and thanks, so much, Ramona, for the kind words.
I thoroughly enjoy hanging out at your place.

Ramona Grigg said...

Hi Two Crows, I think the thing that energizes me most when I wander around in our bloggers community is just how many good hearts there are out there.

I think I spent way too much time during the Bush years in forums where the discussion turned vicious or personal or both. I felt I had to be there to present the side of right--as opposed to the side of the Right--and I often felt I needed to take a shower when I was done. Ugh!

Now I've found a whole lot of folks who are working hard to bring us all to a better place. Coming into the sunshine is how it feels.

And thanks to you. I love your PP&D--you do a great job over there.

two crows said...

hey Ramona--
I just received the Honest Scrapper's Award. And passed it on to you.

If you want to participate, take a look at
http://preserve-protect.blogspot.com/

Ramona Grigg said...

two crows. . .thanks--I think! Now you're putting me to work. Looks like fun, but it may take me a while.

Hmmm. . .

two crows said...

hey Ramona--
I was just rereading your post and thought I'd clarify. Two Crows _is_ my name--in a way.

I believe in reincarnation and have done a number of chaperoned life-readings. of all of them, only one person who went with/guided me through it asked the name of the person in that past life. so, this is the only personality whose name I know.

she was an American Indian in the southwest. and HER name was Two Crows. that's why I took this handle.

what goes around comes around. =)

Ramona Grigg said...

Two Crows, I love the name. And now that I know how it came about, I like it even more.

You use it wisely. She would be proud.

two crows said...

thanx, Ramona--
of all the lives I've peeked into, I liked her by far the best.
I was a criminal in medieval England and a serf in Czechoslovakia or Poland and I've been told I was a Buddhist monk [female] in what is now Tibet.

it's a fascinating study. it can be fun and frightening [I hated that criminal -- he was NASTY].