I like structure because left on my own I wander. My wandering isn’t aimless. It’s usually a result of wondering. I came to Cowbird by wandering on TED. I found Jonathan talking about making sense of the world’s emotions. I wondered who he was and where I could find this project. I wandered the internet and landed, amazed, in a virtual world like no other. I kept to myself for a while, to see if I fit. Convinced I could remain invisible in this virtual community, I took a risk and posted a story that had been in my writer’s knapsack, the bag of stories I carry everywhere like a security blanket. A few Loves, an audience member or two popped up. What encouraged me to post again was that my first story remained visible. I’d built a house in the new neighborhood and I’d been welcomed. Hmmm. Now what, I wondered. So I wandered around. I didn’t want to meet the neighbors yet. I just wanted to look at their houses. WOW! There were some Master Builders in town. My simple four walls and a door was embarrassing so I decided to put on an addition. A poem here, an experience there and before I knew it, I was overbuilding my lot. I wondered how those Master Builders managed the integrity of their structures. A few more stories told and my house would be condemned for rambling.
I wandered the neighborhood again, this time knocking on a few doors. I was always invited in. I listened to the owners share their vision of the community through their experiences, each one unique but always leaving a respectful space for the other to expand. This was a community, they said, a community of storytellers. That should tell me everything I needed to know. It didn’t. I returned home certain that in a flash of uncharacteristic self-confidence I’d overstepped my potential. That night, in the cover of darkness where all fearful acts of shame take place, knapsack in hand, I was about to abandon the neighborhood eyesore. As I stepped outside, I wondered where I would go. No matter where it was, virtual or not, I’d be the newcomer again, the outsider with lots to learn. At least here some of the street names were becoming familiar, Kempner Korner, G Street, Noble Lane, Barbara Boulevard, Gorham Gardens, Jari Avenue, Page Parkway. Even with its global appeal, it still had that small town ambiance. I felt drawn to Cowbird. I was tired of wandering.
As I reentered the house and threw my knapsack on the kitchen counter, there was a knock at the door. It was late. Very late. Hesitantly, I opened the door to find a lovely young woman named Annie from the Cowbird Welcome Wagon. Apparently, they welcome 24/7. She called me by name and told me how happy she was I’d come to Cowbird. She never said my house looked a little rickety and she never suggested demolition. She let me know I’d found a home and I belonged.
Image from Cowbird