by Dawn Davidson
I could imagine tonight as one of those movies (you’ve probably seen more than one of them) where the action follows several different intertwined story lines, showing a bit here, and a bit there, till somewhere close to the end, they all merge together in one grand, sweeping finish filled with fortuitous plot twists and huge smiles and vast orchestras of singing violins. For me, today was a bit like that, though the finish only happened together in time, not in space, and the only soundtrack was in my head.
It started in the morning, with the death of a friend’s parent. Not a surprise, but still unwelcome, as my friend missed the window to go be with them in person right before the end. My friend’s husband also lost a parent this year as well, and their wife’s mother will soon be moving away after living with them for most of a decade. It’s been a year of loss and change for them, as for so many of us. Facebook brought me the news, and delivered back to the grieving family the condolences of dozens of friends. It’s not the same as physical contact, of course, but there’s no doubt that the virtual support and the written words count in helping the recently bereaved put one foot in front of the other, especially in the first days and weeks after the loss.
In that way that the world has of marching on, despite the loss and grief of us mere mortals, the death was balanced by new life today. In another branch of my tribe, miles away, someone I hold dear was giving birth to twins this evening. We all knew that twins were on their way, but what a surprise for them to find out that they have a boy and a girl, not the twin boys the doctors had expected! Surprise! Facebook brought us all that news as well, with several of us virtually present in the room in the minutes surrounding the birth, with live updates from friends on the scene, and post-partum pictures posted promptly, and plentiful praise for the proud parents. (OK, sometimes I get a bit carried away with this alliteration thing!)
At the very same time, I myself was feeling a bit like I’d been giving birth, but without all the blood (and over a much shorter time period). I’ve been working hard on updating my CV/resume after many years away from the outside work world, and despite one delay after another, multiple computers having issues, several software packages failing to deliver all of what I needed, and seemingly endless browser crashes, I finally finished this project that has been dominating my life for a couple of weeks now, just about the same time that the babies were resting in their parents’ arms. In fact, I have much to be grateful for because the browser crashed–had that not happened, I might have actually submitted my resume with a TYPO in it! As anyone who’s been applying for jobs recently knows, that would be the kiss of death to my hopes, and that fate was narrowly avoided by the grace of my sister’s eagle eye, and a random (or perhaps not so random?) and timely crash. Once again, social networking technology (FB again, and also
LiveJournal, as well as email) connected me to my small army of helpful editors, keeping my spirits up and helping me spot those obvius erors that you can’t see in in your own work.. (LOL–OK, so those were deliberate; extra points to those who spot them all!) If I get this job (which is by no means assured, since my contact told me they had 175 applicants 4 days ago!), I’ll need to order a LOT of pizza, I think, for all the people who helped!
“But wait, there’s more! Now how much would you pay?” One of my lovers is overseas in “an exotic locale” on business, with another secondary partner along for the ride, sightseeing while he works (it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it!). While in the process of fighting with the computer, I got a phone message, which was helpfully delivered to me by GoogleVoice, straight into my email inbox. When I finally finished my application, I listened to that message, and to the one that had come in more recently, to discover that my partner’s wife had been in a car accident, and had already been released from the hospital with some whiplash, but apparently nothing worse. She asked me to contact her husband by phone on the other side of the planet. I managed to get hold of him via the expedient of leaving him–you guessed it–a message in Facebook. He then responded by phone, and we talked for a few minutes. Turns out I’d reached him only twenty minutes before they were going out of cell range for three days. How fortuitous that I reached him at all! I sent an e-mail to his wife (hoping she was already asleep, recovering), and I’ll call again in the morning. So even if they didn’t speak directly, I provided the go-between, sort of like the world’s biggest game of telephone, with satellite and mobile internet replacing cups and string, and Facebook and other tools helping me to make asynchronous contact between my partner (on his cellphone in a moving cab half way ’round the world) and his wife in another city 30 miles from me, all without ever moving away from my desk.
I probably sound a bit like an ad for Facebook at this point (which is kind of funny, given how long I dragged my heels before getting an account there), and I’m certainly not meaning to, since I’m really a LiveJournal fan myself. There’s no doubt, however, that Facebook and its plethora of social media cousins are keeping people connected in ways that we never dreamed possible before. In one day, my personal tribal network experienced a death, two births, the seed of a potential new career planted, and an accident that got walked away from–and was reported around the world via technology that feels like it’s straight out of a science fiction story. It’s no wonder that monogamy is having a hard time meeting the needs of a lot of people these days, since our tribes literally stretch across the globe! Our relationships need to be flexible to accommodate the distances and the changes, and yet somehow strong enough to hold together despite that those very challenges. Not an easy task, for sure.
Fortunately, there’s this great
relationship glue I know–
it’s called Love.
(And Facebook. ;^)
In a way, none of these occurrences are really all that miraculous (well, except for the babies I suppose–they’re miraculous by definition). People have been dying and babies have been born for many millennia, after all. And although the jobs have changed over time, people have been working and looking for work that long too, and having accidents, and finding a way to tell their loved ones that they’ll be ok and not to worry. “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” as they say in French.
What’s really amazing here, though, is that now we get to know about these things in real time, and to experience the wonder and gratitude of love and connection that stretch around the world and back, in the moment, while it’s happening. The death and the births and the jobs and the accidents are all happening for us at the same time, in our awareness, as well as in reality.
It strikes me that the awareness of this connectedness, and the sense of being part of a web of Tribe that stretches miles–or hundreds of miles or thousands of miles, even!–is likely one of the steps that is important to our culture in being aware of our impact on our environment, and the changes that we’ll need to make to create in order to continue living as part of our living, breathing ecosystem. Because the fact is, we are all connected, whether we know it or not, separated by the world, but bound by ties of love, one to another to another to another, in an infinite web that’s always here, and always now, as my dear friend Loren Davidson puts it.
It’s a tad more possessive in its outlook than is optimal for me, but I find this song by the Plain White T’s to be infectious, and to capture some of this sense of always being in the moment, and in tune with the world: