Neighborhood 2.0

There’s this place filled with creative thoughtful people who share many of the same philosophies and respect each other when their opinions differ. The thing that bonds these folks together is a common love for the art of photography. Strange thing, though, this neighborhood? It’s virtual. It’s Flickr and blogging and Facebook (and others I’m sure). It’s women who check in on each other when one hasn’t been around for a while. It’s a mutual admiration society in the best way, and it’s a visual feast. It’s friendships 2.0 – weird, maybe, to your grandmother. People who’ve never met – sharing intimate details of their lives with each other and trusting one another with secrets. It’s following your gut instinct and it’s impossible to explain to our kids (whom we would never ever allow to do the same). It’s meeting a bunch of strangers for lunch and conversation and it’s some of the most intimate friendships I have ever had. I can’t fully explain it except to say that we don’t get to choose our actual neighbors. And while I’m beyond lucky in that department, there’s something to be said for creating boundary-less networks and filling them with souls who we just plain connect with.

Last month hundreds of these women (I don’t mean to be sexist, but I can’t actually think of any men in my network) took part in an annual ritual of thanksgiving. We counted our blessings in images every day for thirty days. We went about our days considering what we had to be thankful for (and photographing some of them). And while I’d like to tell you that I spend my entire life like this, it wouldn’t be true. But for one month all the nit-picky crap was overshadowed by the small blessings of every day. And of those, there are many.

At the onset, I thought of it as a useful exercise in creative photography. Before long, though, my thinking had begun to change. New habits perhaps? A movement toward a glass-half-full mentality? I’m hoping.

Insert reality check: the things which annoy me daily did not go away. Scrubbing toilets did not become a joy and long dark cold afternoons did not suddenly become light and warm. But truth be told, things I may have previously ignored became drops filling my glass beyond that halfway line. So today, though I might not write about it, or even photograph it, I will walk through my day looking for the things I’m grateful for.

And I’ll start here. With you, my friends.