Birds

posted in: Uncategorized | 8

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?

8 Responses

  1. The image of the flock of birds at the feeder is fabulous… yes, I’m certainly one of the visitors who came to see what you were up to for weeks and weeks, cocking my head to the side, what, there’s nothing here AGAIN?? What’s he UP to?

    Vincent Kaufmann writes that Kafka and Flaubert were both famous for having preferred a written, over a real, physical, relationship. The way this goes is “go away so I can write to you.” While I think this is a little extreme, and in fact they needed a kind of see-sawing push-me-pull-you activity to nourish the longing, I definitely see this happening on a wider more diffuse scale with blogging.

    I’ve made lots of efforts to meet some of other blogging friends within reach over the last year–and without exception have been blessed with far more than I could have hoped for. Yep, they are even BETTER in person. Imagine! But even the ones I haven’t met, yet, are still my friends. I don’t see the distance as an inevitable barrier. That said, I repeat that I wish Japan were a little closer. I cannot think of a more fun thing to do than go to a Japanese stationery store with you!

  2. Ah, well. It’s not that I believe friendships *cannot* happen at a distance. Nor do I believe that they cannot be maintained.

    Only that… it is very rare.

    All the more reason to cherish our distant friends that much more. They neither come into nor stay in our lives easily.

  3. That’s a beautiful metaphor … I like to think of little creatures gathered around a feeder on a winter day receiving some nourishment from a friendly, welcoming host.

  4. I love the way your description of “a variety of friends” welcomes everyone, and excludes no one. Such a compassionate and open stance on fluid friendships is commendable. I just love it when people make me re-think my own ideas.

  5. I just discovered your blog today and feel fortunate to have come across such beautiful and heartfelt writing. So much of what you’ve said the past few days is what I have been thinking about. I’ve only been blogging since November and already I’m questioning the value of this. Part of me believes there is value and that real connections are possible, and that I need to continue. Another part has great doubts about what can happen in cyberspace. It will be interesting to see where this next year leads. Your blog feels warm and welcoming and I thank you.

  6. Friendships indeed take many forms. In my own life, I’ve found that I have often overlooked the possibility that I was in a certain time, in a certain kind of connection, with a certain person, for the purpose of being of service on their path sometimes in a small way, sometimes maybe bigger. I guess what I am saying is that some of my web friendships probably formed and dissipated to meet some purpose I may or may not have had the ability to recognize, but that our connection happened for a reason. I would ask you not to underestimate the importance of your spirit as it connects with others here via your blog! It sounds like you are working to find a balance between the quiet space you need and the community the blog creates, so I don’t mean to infer you should share at your personal expense, but keep following your heart! And trust that what happens between us can be significant even if only for an instant. Thanks for sharing yourself.

  7. The first time dropped in your blog today. Your writing sounds so beautiful for ears of a non-English speaking Japanese too. Yes, the blog could be a fruitful garden in modern desert, at where birds spot favourite fruit by their own concerns and enjoy fruit grown by owner’s deeper mind while and feel they are not the only lonely bird flying directionless in darkness then fly away to their own way with their own concerns with some encourage ever in minds. So luckey I spotted this beautiful fruit here today!

  8. Butuki, this hungry bird is so glad to find you back! Thank you for making this place, one of my favorite stopping points for visiting you through your beautifully written words and photographs; reading, resting, thinking. I sometimes feel like we read each other’s blogs and then sit in silence together, out in a garden or under the trees. It’s an imagining, of course, but I’m not sure it’s totally inaccurate. How could I pray if I didn’t believe hearts could touch despite physical separation?

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