“So why don’t I ask people in my school for help? Because right now I am on a different path. I have already been on their path. I have seen where it leads. I want to travel on a path less traveled, and I don’t know anyone who wishes to join me, or know anyone who has walked down it…My online “friends” and I share a common belief. A common vision. A common dream. Online people push me to travel further down my path. They warn me about the dangers ahead. They support me when I fall. But most importantly, they never, ever, tell me to turn back. They push, pull, and cheer me onward. The inspire me with their words, actions, and comments. They are the ones I want to be like. I have 100’s of online role models and consider myself very lucky to be in their company.”
When I read that, it made me sad to realize that I felt like that often too. Then I hoped that I was one of those online people that Paul talks about. And if I am one of those people, then there are people that feel this way too but they may be closer to me than just online. Maybe we just don’t know how to find each other. I realized this when I attended the local technology conference last week. When it first started four years ago, there were only 200 people attending. This year there were 1000 participants. It may be slow but the growth is there. Hopefully like the ripple in the water, it will continue to grow. If each one of these participants share and teach someone else, then the effects will be felt on a wider scale. Maybe next year, even more people will be able to attend.
At the conference, someone told me that they didn’t even feel like they were making a difference. At first I felt disheartened when I heard this. Then I realized it was up to me to give them hope, just like Paul talks about. We were sitting there face to face, not online and I had a chance to give someone the support that others have given me. I had to make sure this person understood that we are making a difference, little by little. Maybe we won’t see the results today or tomorrow or even next year. But somewhere down the road, we will have made an impact and we are changing the world. I see the effects I had on lives over twenty years ago when former students contact me and let me know how I made a difference in their lives. It is stories like this that gives me hope. It makes me realize that we have to keep pushing the people around us, not just our online friends who have the “common dreams” we do. We have to “push, pull, and cheer” the ones who don’t have the same dreams we do. Otherwise we become stagnant or possibly lose any ground that has been made in getting people to think differently. We can make a difference and we cannot give up hope. Eventually people around us will have the common vision and dream as us.
Original image: 'Maui Wowie!' http://www.flickr.com/photos/46042146@N00/618971656 by: Randy