Wow! That’s a lot of comments I got for my post the other day and yesterday. Thanks, I appreciate it. I hope we can all create a great community this year. I look forward to reading more of everyone’s thoughts and stories and to watching the blogs grow. To the great number of new bloggers (I’ve been quite surprised by how many newcomers there are… maybe everyone got blog subscriptions for Christmas? TypePad must be making a bundle!), welcome! It is exciting to hear what the new voices will have to say.
It is interesting, in my absence from the web for the past month (I must have logged on to the computer maybe five times) how many people have stopped by here. It reminded me, as I went for a walk this morning, of a flock of birds gathering in a deserted garden: you never see the birds when you step out, but there they are at the feeder, crowding along the fence rails and branches, when you leave them alone. Easily startled. Easily stirred up. And wary of the feeder until time tells.
By taking time away from blogging I’ve come up with the theory that blogging is a kind of consumerism, a kind of accumulation of newness and ideas, much like gossip and bargain sale shopping and advertising. The difference from a book lies in its constant change and attempt to present all ideas as something as yet not told, when in actuality very little new is being said at all. Books require you to sit down and concentrate. They sit still and wait, whereas blogs flit by like the information before a blinking eye, a kind of verbal animation. Perhaps it is no coincidence that animation, video, digital music, cell phone communication, and blogs are all gathered together in the same place.
Like others have written, I didn’t miss the blog very much when I was away. In fact it felt a lot quieter in my head and a lot simpler. What I did miss were a number of people who I’ve really come to like as people, and whom I’ve started corresponding with offline (one person here in Japan I almost had a chance to meet in real life, even). The ideas people discuss are great, too.
Tonio, at Savoradin holds a very well thought out and provocative discussion about blogging and friendship, basically spelling out his belief that without the immediacy of touch and presence, without all the dirty work of real life, a true friendship cannot develop over the internet. Perhaps he is right about the start of friendships… the trust and belief in its existence and in the substantiality of the other person rests upon our mammalian need for touch and physical presence. Without a reference point with which to locate another within the landscape of reality, without the knowledge of what is happening in their real lives, without, as Tonio suggests, the finality of such things as disease, departure, or death, real concern for another cannot develop. Perhaps this is true. Parting is such sweet sorrow. (could Shakespeare have made a good blogger?)
But it is also true that a few of my closest friends I have known for more than 30 years and during that time I may have seen them in person maybe five or six times. The rest has developed and maintained affection, long distance, through letters. I believe there are all kinds of friendship and love and that distance and ephemerality do not diminish some kinds of bonds. I know, without doubt, that I will be friends with and hold them dear those who I’ve been in touch with all this time. And new friends will also join the flock.
Like birds there are so many varieties of friends. Some wing by in the night, some flit up to your windowsill, stare at you a moment and are off. Still others linger, get to know you, and then fly away with their own concerns. And a few remain, day in and day out, whatever weather, through all the seasons. Like birds there are no right or wrong friends, just different shades of plumage.
All are welcome to my garden, even if they do not talk to me. And all must apply their wings as they see fit, including my own. Freedom is what birds are all about, aren’t they?