We blog to know we are not alone

I just added links to other people's blogs on my sidebar, including four links to blogs that I read regularly, but haven't actually introduced myself to the owners. I feel a little guilty about this; it feels like I'm breaking an unspoken rule of blogiquette to go eavesdropping on other people's lives and not stick my head up and say "hello."

But I'm wary of starting a conversation, because I have little faith in my capacity to keep it up in a reasonable fashion. I actually did contact one of these people, over a year ago now, but then failed to write back to her gracious response. Now I feel like someone who got a gift months ago and hasn't written a thank you note yet and now is always averting her eyes whenever she sees the gift-giver.

But the thing is, even though I haven't mustered the courage/time/energy/whatever it is that I'm lacking to establish a real (if virtual) relationship with these people, I have been greatly blessed by them. The little windows into their lives that they permit to any comers by posting musings on the internet have time and again been a comfort to me. When in my loneliness and tiredness I didn't even have the wherewithal to reach out to a flesh-and-blood friend, I have felt encouraged to read about their thoughts and experiences and to have the sense that I am not the only one to know melancholy, questioning, weakness. I know it's kind of odd to engage in a one-way relationship like this, but it genuinely cheers me when my friends who are strangers report good news, and I commiserate when the news is not so good. I am grateful that they have chosen to put a bit of their lives in the spotlight, because it has been a salve for my soul.

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