The Door We Never Opened

With a simple click of the mouse, 15 years of blood, sweat, tears, (and beers!) simply disappeared.

Ok, maybe it doesn’t disappear, but it sure feels like it. Allow me to explain…

Flashback to 2007, when I went to my sweet, loving, understanding, compassionate, trusting wife (bases covered) 🙂 with those ‘Three Little Words’ any wife loves to hear… “I have an idea.” (First, you likely just recounted the number of words, didn’t you? and yes, I’m fully aware that is four words, but I took some creative liberties because ‘three little words’ sure sounded better for the story). 🙂

A little backstory. At the time we were an active family, with three kids aged 11 and under, desperately seeking local activities or events where we could dump the kids, er, I mean, where we could enjoy some fun family interaction time. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a good, single source of information about where we could go and what we could do.

Concurrently, as the world was starting to show its rougher edges, I simply thought that we were becoming oversaturated with all the hard news out there, with very little coverage of the good things happening right in our own neighborhoods. I was tired of the “if it bleeds, it leads” philosophy of old-school media, which all too often was all about crime and corruption, or about Olympia and DC (ooops, sorry for the redundancy there). 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, that stuff may be important, but it wasn’t the vibe that I wanted.

I wanted a resource about local family events. I wanted a resource about the good things happening here locally. I guess I just wanted something that was All About the People, Places, and Events that make our Community Great (hey, that’s a catchy tagline, I might use that). 🙂

Remember, this was back when blogs and social media were barely even a thing. Long before ‘mean tweets’ were common and prior to media gaslighting permeating our public domain. I know I was neither Lewis nor Clark, but we were talking about relatively uncharted territory here.

I received the blessing and support (and more participation than she likely envisioned) from my lovely wife, and off I went. Armed with my solid D+ grade in Journalism my Freshman year (thanks, Mr. Bauermeister) and that previously discussed failure in Oral and Written Communications class – plus lacking any web development training or skills at all, and backed by absolutely zero outside funds – I set off to start a community website from scratch.

I mean, what could go wrong? 🙂

Despite my lack of everything needed to succeed, the first hyper-local website in the area was born – And it took off like wildfire… ok, more like a single match struggling through the rain and a strong breeze. Either way, we were launched.

After some starts and stops, we gained a little traction. Soon, we became the de facto site for the Neighborhood Association and a go-to site for the neighborhood business directory. All of a sudden it was like, hey, we might be on to something here.

Never one to miss an opportunity to become way too overextended 🙂 we immediately launched a HazelDellLive, a FelidaLive, and a NoCoLive (trying to be a little too cute with a North County name). As these sites were each coming into their own, I again went to discuss an idea with my lovely wife, but this time she frantically scurried away before I could even get started. Sigh.

Regardless, it was “Go Big or Go Home” time… and in 2008 we launched the one-stop source for everything good throughout the community…

And good it was. Our efforts there provided us with years of great times, fun experiences, and wonderful new connections in life. As I’ve referenced before, ‘Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life’ – for me, that’s been ClarkCountyLive.

Then the world stopped. When I was diagnosed with ALS in May 2021, everything changed. I now had a new challenge, a battle that would take every fiber of my being to fight. It was to be a war of attrition where, sadly, I knew I would be the ultimate casualty. That stark realization contributed to the knowledge that, like it or not, I needed to step back from my efforts for ClarkCountyLive.

No longer able to commit to the necessary workload, I did some minor, part-time work until later in the year. Since then, I’ve been mostly a resource (a Mitchipedia, if you will) for the ongoing work on the site. But until this week, my public-facing social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and too damn many other sites…) had all continued to reference my work title. Until this week.

Look, it’s not like I was in denial (I know that’s a river in Egypt). It’s not like I was thinking I’d just need a few months off, and I’d be back at it. It’s not like I really expected to ever return.

I knew the deal, I understood what a future with ALS had in store for me. It’s just I never got around to the finality associated with changing the profiles. Until this week.

Now, with a couple clicks of a mouse, those digital references to 15 years of life-changing commitment are gone. Though my experiences remain. My war wounds remain. And most importantly, my pride in what we accomplished remains.

So while I must step away, I do so with further validation of one of my most important beliefs… In the end, we come to regret the chances we failed to take. Or as more eloquently stated by T.S. Elliot

“Footfalls echo in the memory; Down the passage which we did not take; Towards the door we never opened.”

Despite the odds, regardless of the obstacles, irrespective of the outcomes… Please, don’t ever let it be said that I never opened the door.

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