Yes. Forging Iron of Men and Women. That is what this upcoming challenge is about in June. Many of you already bear the distinction of being an IronMan. I am proud to count you as my friends. Both the "will be"s and the "are"s.
This journey is no longer just about becoming an IronMan and finding where the path will lead us. It is also about Forging Iron Friendships. Understand, I do not use the term "Friend" loosely. I know we all use it to describe even a casual acquaintance at times when relaying a story. But, in my heart, a casual acquaintance is not where I find my friendships. I find my friendships in Likes. What I mean by that is "Likes attract Likes". That doesn't mean we are only drawn to people exactly like us. We are not drawn only to the people who we find our mirror image in. The "likes", that draw us together are the core things we find to be important. Our values, our beliefs in what makes another person "good". Our abilities to find humor in the same things and sadness shared in other things. It's what makes us pull together.
We may have different spiritual beliefs, we may live in different cities or countries. We may walk such varied paths in our careers that others wonder "what could they possibly have in common?" What we have in common is drive. The drive to live our lives. The drive to give every day our best, even when some days our "best" is sorely lacking. What we have in common is the ability to extend our hand out in love and offer our heartfelt assistance to those in need. The genuine belief that our words of encouragement just might help someone through a rough spot in their lives. Our ability to rejoice in the victories, both big and small of those whom we visit. Maybe we visit every day, maybe we visit once a week, our schedules never allow us to predetermine that aspect of our friendships. The main thing is, we visit. We visit when we can and make the effort to do so. We care and we express that. That is friendship. Those are the sorts of friends I consider true. Those are the sorts of friends I consider real.
After being at IMFL this past week I realized (to quote Taconite Boy) We really do have fantastic "creepy Internet friends".
Bigun and I met Roman, Big Mike, Jwim, IronTriTim and DrDave in Chicago. This past weekend not only did we get to see IronTriTim again but we got to hug and share laughs and heartbreak with so many amazing people, my heart just wells over with the impact of it. IronJenny, Tac, TriMama, TriFeist and so many more. You all know who you are, please don't be hurt at my not mentioning all of you. I want you to know, I look forward to breaking bread with you all again, soon.
For those of us who will be at CdA - Be ready, many of us already know each other not only in TLoB but also IRL. I can't wait to continue forging these amazing friendships and to build new ones with all of you I haven't hugged, yet.