Distant Rivers

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Cactus blooming in my window sill, Chofu, Tokyo, Japan, 2004

I’m not sure how to take this: Two days ago Tonio of White Elephant (formerly “Savoradin”) wrote a post about a dream he had and feeling somewhat uneasy about its conclusion. In response I attempted to find some kind of consolation for him, by equating his visions with the healing strength of stories, albeit somewhat bluntly and a little insensitive to his earlier allusions to a very painful and devastating memory in April of another year. There was some misunderstanding between us, though civil, and we exchanged a few e-mails in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort we both felt. Tonio stated that he was seriously thinking of closing down his blog, though he denied that I had anything to do with it. The next day, I checked his site to see if any progress had been made with other comments to his last post, only to find that he actually had shut down the blog indefinitely.

Most likely it was, as he told me, just a conclusion of earlier intentions he had had, but still, I feel as if I was the catalyst. It’s been bothering me all night and all morning. Most especially because of the earlier talk in the comments on his post three days ago, in which he and others mentioned suicide and clinical depression, I can’t help but wonder what I might have caused. In this invisible world of blog interaction you never know who is really abiding on the other side; words that you might think carry only light effect, might actually bend someone else’s hopes and fears, and, in my indelicate treading around the flower bed, I now wonder if I hurt someone more than I can know.

Tonio has offered a window into a delicate and sublime soul who wrote poetry that, though he always denied it, could pierce you to the quick in its subtlety and almost whimsical ease in the use of words. He had a way of combining images and representations that expressed vocabulary in exactly what you felt you had been fishing for. And he wrote about the vulnerability of the human soul in a way that few people on the internet have ever approached. He would fiercely push away such praise, however, and find a way to minimize any value in his words, And this has always made me sad. There is a flame there that burns so brightly, but is in danger of snuffing out.

I just hope that he finds what he is looking for and discovers the strength of his own deep and lovely river. Too many voices seem to lose their way in this wilderness and never come home. Perhaps his time away is exactly what he needs, though. The real world is the only place where the heart can mend.

8 Responses

  1. I’ve sent you an e-mail, comment was getting too long

  2. Depression is a horrible disease. It doesn’t damage a body part; it damages a person’s experience of life, who he is. You can do no more than approach others with kindness in your heart. It’s natural to be concerned, but if he reacts badly to kindness, it is a choice; he has to take responsibility for his personal reactions. It does no good to assume responsibility for that, to feel guilt about another person’s emotions.

  3. Hello Anne,

    Thank you for your warm words and kindness. Though I wish more that you could share them with Tonio than with me (but I won’t deny that it is always nice hearing from you!).

    I’m all right. I thought hard before posting the entry above (I decided a while back not to share anything here before I worked it out myself first), and came to the conclusion that I can’t let myself be responsible for what someone has done when I tried my best to be my best with them. There isn’t any more I can do than that. Mainly I just feel sad about the reasons for Tonio’s decision to stop his blog; he seemed so papery thin in his e-mails to me. I am concerned, but it doesn’t ake over my life.

    I may be too sensitive at times and a lot of people have mistakenly called me “glass-like”, but I am not, and never have been, fragile. Things affect me for a moment because I feel them strongly, but there is always something inside myself that cuts its way through and remains firm.

    So, though it hurts to see someone like Tonio go through his fire, I also haven’t forgotten myself. I just hope Tonio can see his own strength, too.

  4. Ever the optimist, I’m glad to see Tonio has his domain name there and the blog says “hiatus” – a break. I wish him a good time away. He wrote of being uncomfortable about his blog and/or his writing for some time now, so I doubt any one person or comment caused him to take time off from it. It’s hard to put oneself out in these blogs, feel misunderstood, incapable of completely communicating what we want to say, even here in comments. Hopefully Tonio knows we send our best intentions and he can just do whatever he needs to do to feel better.

  5. Yes, well. Forgive me for being horrifyingly embarrassed, and “reacting badly to kindness,” as one of your commenters has said, etc, etc. It’s shameful to think that’s the impression all this gives. But I suspect Denny hasn’t got a clue who I am or what passed in the comment boxes or in our emails, although it’s an odd experience to see myself and my supposed reactions analysed in third person publicly. Hi, Denny, whoever you are. :)

    It’s a lovely eulogy, you’ve written, Miguel. Thank you very much. But as I said already I took the blog down for reasons which had nothing to do with you. It’s up to you whether you trust me to be truthful in this. I hope you will.

    People go on hiatus and people remove their blogs with astounding frequency. There’s really no reason to read into it more significance than it deserves. It’s no great tragedy. Heck, it’s not even a little tragedy. It’s just a website that’s down for a bit. Or forever. No big deal.

  6. OK, Tonio. I understand. Was just worried, that’s all. I’ll put aside all this sideline talk. I’m sorry for reading more into everything than there really was. But you have to forgive me for reacting only to what I read and saw, since that is all I (or anyone in the blog world) have. I’ve only met in person one blogger, and the meeting made all the difference. Even though we only spent an afternoon talking at a coffee shop, the physical presence allowed us both to take measure of each other as living, breathing people, and that created a certain trust and a strong sense of context.

    It’s hard to know what the true person behind a blog is because everything is colored by the words they choose. I suspect that most of the people who drop by this site to leave comments, including you, are sincere and mean well, even if the comments are off the mark. Let’s all remember that and leave one another be. And let’s remember that the embarrassments and discomforts and such go all around. The kernel of every blog is a real person, whether they sound like one or not.

    At least, Tonio, you seem to sound all right. That’s reassuring. Thanks for putting me straight. Good luck with your hiatus. Hope it makes a difference for you.

  7. Oh, shoot, Miguel. I was worried I’d messed up again and came back, since English apparently isn’t working for me, to write in broken German. ;) I thought it might give you a much needed laugh:

    Mein Deutsch ist sehr schlecht. Aber er scheint, daß ich ihn versuchen sollte. Ich hoffe, daß Sie lachen. Sie sagten in einem email, daß dieses unser zweites Mißverständnis war. Verstehen Sie bitte, daß Sie nicht verantwortlich sind für, was ich getan habe. Ich danke Ihnen für Ihre
    Ermutigung. Sie sind sehr freundlich gewesen. Vielleicht erklärte Anne, daß ich meine Web site im November entfernen wollte? Ich habe an die Web site seit dieser Zeit gedacht. Sowieso bitte sorgen Sie nicht sich um meine Verlegenheit. Dieses ist nicht sehr wichtig. Ich meine das aufrichtig. Vielen Dank, Miguel.

  8. Thanks for the laugh, Tonio! To anyone here who cannot read German, sorry. It’s hard to get the feel of Tonio’s German words into English. And you know what’s so weird? (but German has this effect) Your intentions come across much more succinctly than in English, perhaps because you write without all the baggage of your Mother of All Tongues!

    Ich danke dir auch, Tonio, für deine Angelegenheit. Vielleicht hab ich ein bißchen überreagiert. Tscha… es ist Frühling; was kann mann sagen? Zeit genug für Regentagen…

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