December 12, 2013

A Letter to Waylon Lewis, from 10 Years Ago.

Dear Waylon,

Today, as you’re reading this, you may be running crazy on yet another 16-hour day. You’re maybe feeling a little tired for having to carry your computer around everywhere you go. A few days ago, you had to sneak out from the middle of another party to fix something online on your laptop—perhaps you’re feeling broke and wondering when things will looking up, finally.

But all this will build something so large, so incredible that I wonder if you know, right now, that how profound and beautiful a change you will make in the lives of millions of people.

Yes, it will be millions.

A few years down, you will make an announcement, dressed in a festive red onesie, about a new record that elephant journal has broken. You will tell a roomful of celebrating, dancing, whooping friends that elephant journal has hit six million readers a month—this is not clicks or hits but individual readers. You will explain that if one person goes to elephant journal 100 times that month, it is counted as one.

There are six million of those “ones.”

You will celebrate the fact that that elephant journal is now a fifth the size of Huffington Post when it was sold to AOL for $85 million. You beam as you tell everyone that elephant journal was able to pay $5,500 to writers in the last month.

After you make that announcement, we will watch you dance around with lots of other joyously, onesie-dressed friends on a YouTube video. Six million readers around the world will rejoice with you, and remember the days when you used to lug your computer around and disappear for days on end.

This website, this big flower you are now tending, will grow so big that you’ll soon need lots more hands on deck. You bring in editors and have your own full-time staff. Eventually, you will start apprenticeships so that hundreds more can join the parade and be a part of crafting this kaleidoscope of voices.

More than all this though, I hope that you know that you will help countless people around the world rediscover what it means to love, to stretch their hearts wide open, to have hope, which is a tremendous thing.

An ordinary girl like me will step intrepidly into the elephant journal community as she submits her first article and then join the ele-apprenticeship where her life most definitely changes. She will make new friends, connect with passionate, heart writers who she has wanted to meet all her life, and find people who understand her in a way that nobody has.

With elephant journal, you will create a new timeless, spaceless place that will connect people 15 times zones away. People who have never dared write will start to find their voice through this mindful space and feel brave enough to bear their hearts and bones to thousands of readers. Here, writers will learn to truly write, love, breathe from a place of love (not fear or guilt or doubt or any of the other limiting beliefs that have so often dictated the thing we write). That alone is an immense thing.

The true meaning of a compassionate, inclusive, empathetic spiritual community will come alive through words and pictures and friendships—all of which you will have made possible by this website you are now working on every moment you’re awake.

I—just a silly, dreamful girl so many thousands of miles away—will fall a little in love with you. (That’s not meant to sound creepy.) It will just be a way of saying how much awe I, and thousands and thousands of others, will have for what you are building for us, the world; and the unending gratitude that I will feel every single day that this community and remote family exists.

elephant journal—the website and the Facebook pages, tweets, YouTube channel that will arise from it—will be the first place that people log on to when they wake up in the mornings. Articles—truth, beauty, honesty, love, dreams, fears—will be shared and shared and shared, sending light and strength to people everywhere, people who will always need that extra mindful wisdom to get them through that hour, that day, that month.

These tiny big spaces on the Internet will also be the last place that people visit at the end of each day, so that they go to bed light and buoyant with the enlightened energy of elephant journal that you’re now working so hard to radiate into the world.

To the younger Waylon who has just starting this website and is perhaps exhausted; maybe fed-up sometimes; maybe occasionally feels like he can’t quite grasp what this will lead to,

please know that it will lead to everything I have described here, six million readers and growing. And this is will only be the beginning of more.

On behalf of the millions who will continue to discover the magic that is elephant journal; who might not be able to fully express just how very grateful they are to you for making this place what it is now:

thank you

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

{Photo from the elephant journal archives}

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