Nine people sat around the table before the meeting started, chatting comfortably. Several conversations were happening, and I was content to sit and sort of space out. Something I really enjoy about getting older is that opportunities for spacing out are still everywhere, but I no longer care about missing anything.
I’ve missed out on plenty and been a part of just as much, and it is my experience that what I missed eventually becomes meaningless. I’ve learned that of all the daily information we consume and process, very little of it rises to the top of the import list.
One of the conversations around the table was about email; a few people were commenting on the length of one of their addresses. It was a college-affiliated email, rarely used. The owner had to look it up on her phone to share it. A conversation started about the length of school emails and how people hang onto them long after they’ve finished school. This was a life experience I never had.
I mused that I went to college so long ago that it wasn’t until graduate school that I was introduced to email, about a year and a half after email became a normal part of life for most.
Back then I sat in a computer lab on campus the first week of the new semester with a slip of paper in my hand, typed with my own address. Staring at the letters and numbers, the @ seemed meaningless.
Haltingly, I asked the young woman next to me: You mean… I type this in… and type someone else’s email address in… type something… and the other person reads it? I couldn’t visualize it.
Yes, said the shiny new grad student, my colleague, two full years younger than me. She was already loads smarter, her education fresher than mine. She graduated from a better school than I did, too. I had spent the last two years doing three things: applying to graduate schools, dating heedlessly, and hanging out in bars. Only twenty-four, I felt obsolete, behind the times, practically elderly.
The need to learn this new skill was urgent. My learning curve was steep. I thought I’d never catch up.
Within a week I was caught up with email and the world wide web.
Years later, I started a blog because I wanted to write something that others could read. No matter that I didn’t know who or really how many were reading; my need coincided with having hours to myself a day, the advent of social media, and the thought that I had something to say.
I learned enough to design a little website, plunked ten dollars down to secure a domain, and wrote.
In the five years since, the world of blogging has grown into a universe, dotted with important words like branding and content and plugin and reach and acronyms like SEO and PV and POV and others that I can’t remember and that are just as meaningless as that @.
I am on the fringe of this universe, my little blog sort of lagging behind at a pace much slower than others, having never really understood or educated myself on the proper words to insert into my posts so that they can be more easily found on Google, tailoring content to reach as many people as possible. Five years of blogging and what I’ve gleaned from how to build a successful blog boils down to one thing – having clickable posts. There’s more to it, I’m sure.
But no matter. I’m old enough to know that I don’t have to keep up with the crowd. There will always be someone more successful, more astute, more interested in playing the game and therefore better at it than me. My learning curve has flattened out a bit, yet I continue on, practicing my writing and hopefully getting better. While other more successful bloggers are busy learning about networking and viral posts and building a social media empire, I continue to plug away, no matter how insignificantly.
My learning curve was a steep one, but from the top of the hill I saw another, steeper one, and another, and another. At some point I jumped off. Sometimes I think I should climb the hill again, reach the top, and keep on going.
The information will never end. Do I want to spend my life chasing it? I consider a life trying to stay on top of the learning curve.
Today is not the day to begin that life. Today I'll choose some of it and let the rest fall away.
Today, I've caught up enough. I’m okay with what I’m missing.