Sometime last night the hit counter on my blog dashboard reached 250,000 hits.
I started the Flophouse back in 2008 for reasons that seem rather vague today. I knew I wanted to write but I couldn't muster the effort to publish more than 3 or 4 posts a year. That changed in 2011 when all of a sudden I started posting nearly every day. From 30 km an hour to 200. Something just clicked and I think it had everything to do with getting sober. I know that we all dream Hemingway dreams but, for me, any creativity I possess was only unleashed after I put the genie back in the bottle and set it aside for good.
2012 was, depending on the point of view, my annus horribilis (terrible year) or my annus mirabilis (year of wonders). I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer (three tumors and it had spread to the lymph nodes). But, oh miracle, I got through the poison and the rays and came out on the other side with my sanity intact. The blog was a big part of that. I couldn't even walk at one point but I could always write no matter what else was going on. Today there are over 750 posts on this blog on a wide range of subjects.
I've been told that I would get many more hits if I just focused better. I'm sure they are right. There is also the name of the blog - the Flophouse - which some people look at and and think, "ce n'est pas sérieux." Fair enough. Personally think I wasted many Life Credit Units taking myself way too seriously and what a relief it was to, as Pema Chodron puts it "lighten up." As a result I don't plan what I write and there is no publishing schedule. I just get up every morning and have at it. If it's meant to be then something will present itself as the topic of the day and I do believe that this impulse does not come from me but from something outside of me.
Certain posts and some topics get more hits than others but, in a sense, it's completely irrelevant. It's exactly like "sharing" at an AA meeting. There is structure - you raise your hand, the speaker gives you a nod and you have so many minutes to talk without interruption - but what you say is up to you and comes from the deepest parts of your soul. This exercise is not only good for you (gets things off your chest) but it's also good for others. What you have to say just might be exactly what just one person in that room needs to hear that day. It's service. I hope that this blog is like that. Whether a post gets 5 or 500 hits doesn't matter as long as it served its purpose and reached at least one individual who really needed that information or those words at that moment.
As I look at the counter again I'm a bit astonished. Some days I still can't believe that I have readers - I just don't have enough relatives to account for the 250,000 hits. And some of you I've come to know over the past couple of years through your comments, emails and snail mail letters. You are amazing - thoughtful and kind - and I am so fortunate that you came into my life. Whatever you may get from this blog, believe me, you've given so much more - the gift of your time and your attention.
Frère David Steindl-Rast is, I think, fundamentally right when he says that happiness comes from gratitude. The unexpected kindness, support and generosity that comes from strangers who become friends is something I never imagined would come my way (especially in very dark times).
As 2013 winds down I am so grateful to be sober, to be alive, to have had the chance to know you, and to be right where I am in this chair, in this house, happily tickling the keys and publishing these words on my odd little blog.
Best Christmas present ever.