Exactly one year ago today, most Americans were celebrating that quaint hundred-year-old tradition known as Mother’s Day. I have to admit, I was one of those included in the ritual, thanks to the doting members of my immediate family.
There was another significance for me concerning that Mother’s Day last year: it was the launch of A Family Tapestry.
Yes, for three hundred and sixty six days now—thanks to a startup during Leap Year—I’ve actually had something to say about blending history and genealogy. Not bad for someone who doesn’t talk much.
It’s been the process—the journey—that has fascinated me the most.
Think about it: do you know how hard it is to be there, day in and day out, for three hundred sixty six posts? I know: some of you handle that like a pro—mainly because you are a pro. This, for me, is a labor of love. And a process of discipline.
I’m reminded of what I thought, on the far side of that first year, about that discipline. At that point, I considered myself to be blogging-in my Gladwell Ten Thousand Hours. Taking my cue from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers book, I explored the give and take of participating in the process. Building community. Entering into The Conversation.
While in the overall scheme of things, my posts may be an infinitesimally small blot in the blogging universe—let alone the publishing world—each day became a vehicle that helped connect me to new thoughts, new techniques. And above all, new people. It’s become a way to thrive. It’s been, to me, e-mind-candy.
A long time ago, in another professional life, I heard a conference speaker draw his presentation from the inspiration of the word, “ecology.” He didn’t use that term the way most people are accustomed to handling it. He actually employed it in a larger sense of “relationships of organisms to one another”—in the case studies presented, it became clear that he was referring specifically to the “study of the interaction of people and their environment” in a much different way. His treatment of the word “ecology” came from his professional perspective in gerontology. He was focusing on the “environment” of such relationship-sterile settings as convalescent hospitals and nursing homes, looking to see how changes in that “ecology” could change the health outlook for his patients. His point was well taken: not all living environments are green. But they still all need to be conserved.
This type of thinking has stayed with me over the years. We become each other’s environment. We are shaped by our tools. Though ever so softly and imperceptibly, we are inexorably intertwined with the people around us—even those with whom we disagree. They—friend or foe—make us who we become by our responses to them. The tools we use only serve to accelerate or discourage that process.
Whether a person realizes this interdependence or not, it is there.
Actually, I find any word rooted in “dependence” to be an inept choice for terms that have to do with the give-and-take of interpersonal relationships. Perhaps inter-relationship would be more effective. It’s not the degree of dependence that needs to be measured, but the aspect of reciprocal influence that needs to be acknowledged.
So I begin to ask: What are the interlinking systems that flow around my personal genealogy habitat? I certainly didn’t get to where I am today—in learning, in research, in writing—without others who reached out and put their touch of influence on me. I know my year-long journey through this blogging experience has positive outcomes owing to those of you who have contributed to shaping that day-to-day path. For those of you who have been an encouragement—through comments, suggestions, research tips, or by putting in a good word on your own blog or through Facebook mentions and retweets—I am most grateful. There is always a hesitation, a feeling of apprehension before clicking that “publish” button late late at night. You have made each morning after seem more like Christmas for me.
While I’d like to continue that writing, that reading of others’ blogs, that seeking of inspiration both online and offline, I know it is as we bump up against each other, look each other in some sort of digital eye, and get to know each other’s interests and—more importantly—hopes in work and life that we develop that richer contextual fabric and hone those intents into tangible projects.
Though I am still making feeble attempts at reaching out to others in this GeneaBlogging world through these new toys of Twitter, Google Plus, or Facebook, I have to remember that these are the tools that facilitate today’s Great Conversation. It is the reaching out and connecting that is the essential point.
In the blogging ecology, the way we inter-relate influences every aspect of the larger systems in which we operate—from our individual contributions in immediate circles of interest to the strength we lend to the overarching webs of our networks. The essential element in our social media ecosystems is a healthy respect for the potential of what each one of us means to each other.
I’m thankful for one year of discovering a world of wonder in an ecology such as this.