In the last year, I have been living my life in fragments. I have three, discrete, separate lives that almost never intersect, yet each part completely essential to my well-being.
Part one is my professional life. I have been pursuing a degree in counselling since September 2011, and over the course of three years built both a social circle and professional network in another city, 200 km from where I live. By going part-time over three years, I overlapped with both the class of 2013 and the class of 2014, so I graduate with twice as many friends and contacts. And in April, I completed my internship at a social service agency where I felt completely immersed as an integral part of the team. On my first day there, one of my co-workers/supervisors said, “I’m sure you’re going to do great. The only thing you have to worry about is not wanting to leave when it’s over.” Prophetic words– I miss being there like an ache in my bones.
The second part is my personal life, my friends and family. I have friendships that stretch back to grade school, some back in my hometown, some elsewhere in Canada, and some in Israel. Then there are relationships built over the course of the last 20 years, here in the city I’ve lived in since 1994 (but plan to leave soon), people who support me day-to-day, who saw me through pregnancies, child-rearing, divorce, and now my commuting lifestyle.
The third part– and this part is very new– is my online life. It started with this blog. Over the course of almost 4 years of blogging, I slowly built up a network of fellow pet bloggers, and these friendships have come to be more and more central to my life. In 2012, I went to Ithaca, New York, and met Pamela of Something Wagging. She was the first blogging friend I met in real life, and today she came and returned the favour with her husband Mike and Honey the golden retriever.
Because it was Shabbat, there are no pictures to share. We took the dogs for a walk and talked– about dogs, about religion, about politics, about houses and architecture. And we talked about the guiding principle of online friendship– acceptance and non-judgement. The blogging friends we have in common never argue cats vs. dogs, Democrat vs. Republican, deist vs. atheist. We are all those things, and we allow each other to be all those things. We talked about what unites us, not what divides us. What we share is the desire to see more kindness, more justice, more equity, more compassion in the world. I can’t even tell you what we differ on, because it is so irrelevant it’s never come up.
In so many ways, my on-line friends mirror my dog park friends. No one cares about how much money you have, what you do for a living, your race, religion, or country of origin. It boils down to, are you good to your dog and your fellow human beings? Are you a responsible member of the dog park / online world?
The dog park has one iron-clad rule–pick up the poop. Don’t leave it for others to deal with, or worse, step in. It’s kind of the same online, except there the rule is don’t fling it at other people. Unlike the dog park, though, it’s okay to share it, to ask for support, to get help dealing with the s**t in your life.
Pamela and I didn’t get to the dog park today. But the dog park, via this blog, got me to Pamela, and all my other blogging friends. I never dreamed, back in April 2009, that Our Best Friend would bring with him so many blessings. All I did was take in a stray dog. If we reap such benefits from kindness to animals, I can only imagine what blessings would come if people could be this kind to each other.