You see, over a decade ago I pretty much laid down all of my hobbies, all of the cool things that I'd loved my whole life (comics, art, toys, sci-fi gizmos, etc.). I traded all that cool stuff to bury my head in the sand and become a "grown-up." I let some folks convince me that there was no time in the grown-up world for all those things. So, like a good little beat-bot, I did what I was told and sold my toys, my comic books, quit drawing and found a way to force my star-shaped life into a square hole and carry on. You know what? It wasn't all that great. Sure, it wasn't all bad, but during that time I'd get that little ping when I'd pass a comic book on the shelf, or walk down the toy isle at the department store. Something wasn't quite right, but I learned to ignore it.
The worst part was that I quit drawing, something I'd loved (and was decent at) since I was a small child. Somehow, all of that creativity was intertwined with my hobbies and interests. When I buried one, I buried them all.
REWIND to a couple of years ago...
Not to long ago I met a fella named Darren (@DarrenH1221, for all you Twitter-folk out there). We got to talking one night (for hours) about comic books, and MAN was it fun. That one conversation kinda rebooted my interest in comics, and reminded me of a part of myself that I'd turned my attention away from. It felt good, like coming back home. Not long after that conversation, I started frequenting the local comic book shop again, and damn if it didn't feel great!
Around the same time, I stumbled on this really cool blog site called "Weirdo Toys" (seriously... they're really weird). What a great site! I dug around for quite a while. It was such a good time to see someone who really embraced their hobby, raising it to almost an art form (yes, collecting weirdo toys is an art form... just visit the site). Whoever was running that site wore their hobby on the outside for the world to see... proudly. That site, in particular, got me thinking about all of the toys I'd sold and given away, all in an attempt to "grow up" (blech!). I can't lie; I felt a lot of regret. The Weirdo Toys site helped me shake off some of that crazy, self-imposed brainwashing I'd been carrying around for so long.
FAST FORWARD to now...
I'm happy to say that today, I'm a full-grown man-child, that has a decent job in advertising and have raised two happy, healthy, creative children. I collect toys (I dug up that tiny Abe Lincoln at Goodwill this weekend; SCORE), read comics and spend at least 12 hours a week strengthening my illustration skills. I don't want to get all heavy (this whole post has been pretty heavy), but in a small way, Darren and Weirdo Toys changed my life (don't get the big head guys; I did some of the work myself).
BACK to my original point...
So, I was pretty stoked to get that wallet. Why? Well, the fella who created the Weirdo Toys website is a buddy of mine on Twitter and he was giving it away. He agreed to send it to me, and I thought that was a pretty cool thing. Considering how much I dig his site, I think it's mighty awesome to have something sitting on my shelf from the Weirdo Toys collection. I was also excited to get the wallet because it reaffirmed what my gut told me; Weirdo Toys was a trustworthy fella, honest & authentic. Have I ever met the guy face-to-face? Nope. Does it matter? Not one bit.
What I'm finding is that there is a whole world of trustworthy, authentic, honest folks out there in the online social networking world. They have interests similar to mine. They have lives that echo my own. Many of them put their true face out there each day. I appreciate the honesty. The truth is, I've met some folks through online social networking that I trust more than people I've been in face-to-face relationships with for years.
So, thanks Darren, Weirdo and all of the other honest folks I've met on Twitter. I count you folks as friends. Your authenticity is what makes that possible.