I have a website email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
So far, no one has written to it.
I continue to get a raft of mail to my personal email address, most of it junk from assorted companies who want me to buy things.
My website’s email, though? Nothing.
Okay, actually, I did get an email from the good folks at Arena Net, who run the game Guild Wars 2. My original account with my personal email address, for some reason, put me on the European servers, and if I’m going to play the game with Megan, I need to be on the North American servers. So I created another account with my website email address, and got the confirmation emails sent to there.
And that’s it. Nothing else.
Yet I still have it. In truth, at the moment, there is really no good reason for having it, but I have it anyway.
I have it because it helps me think of the future.
What I want, of course, is for legions of devoted fans to flood that email box with rivers of praise, all of them telling me that my writing inspires them to do great things. Okay, I’m not that choosy…if others simply want to devote words to telling me how brilliant I am, that’s fine, too.
Yet so far…nothing.
And whenever I once again check that box and find it empty, a gentle, encouraging voice says “yes, it’s empty…for now.”
There is an image I always have when I think of this email box, from the film “Breaking Away.” In that film, Barbara Barrie—who plays the mother of a young man who competes in bicycle races—talks to him as he’s considering whether or not to enter a major race.
She takes a out her passport, and talks about how, though she’s never used it, she always dreams of doing so. She imagines going to foreign lands, she says, and proudly showing her passport and saying “here.”
She’s doing this, of course, to tell her son to follow his dreams and enter the race—the better to avoid regretting it for the rest of his life—but I always saw it as more than that. Yes, she could be sadly saying that she’s never going to go to those places, that she’s missed her chance, but I never saw it that way.
Instead, I always saw that scene as one decent person’s gentle encouragement to always have something that reminds you that you may, one day, achieve a life’s dream. Sure, his mother may not have set foot outside Bloomington, Indiana, but as long as she has that passport, she can always think that maybe, one day, she will travel.
Without giving the film away—and if you haven’t seen it, you should—events transpire so that the story ends with a monumental happy ending, and by the end, as in all good films, all of the characters have changed, and moved on with their lives. And whenever I see that film, I always like to think that sometime, after the film has ended, the mother will get her wish, and get to use that passport.
So yes, I keep that website address. So far, no one has written to it, and for a long time, there’s the excellent chance that no one will, save for a friend or two who will read this and take pity on me. When I think of that address, though, I always think: there is always the possibility, in the future, that I will receive a piece of email from a total stranger who read and liked my writing, someone who travelled from far away and showed up at my doorstep.
We need these things, be they passports or email addresses. They remind us that opportunity lies in the future, and that the future may be filled with journeys to places we never thought we’d visit.
We all need, as the mother in “Breaking Away” needs, something that reminds us that one day, we will face future opportunity, and that this future opportunity will ask to see our passport. And then, we can reach for that passport, proudly open it up, and say “here.”