Saturday, August 6, 2016

Stay On the Line: Keeping Connections

"Stay on the line."

There's a new trend in dating and maybe even friendships too: dropping all communication hoping the other person would get the hint.

The innovation of text messages has allowed for years of constant and also inconsistent communication between family members, lovers, and first dates we don't want to turn into a second date. Text messages, like its longer-form older sister e-mail, allow for the writer to hide behind the technology. A smirk may not be picked up, a lack of interest may not be noticed, and even sadness, hurt, or joy could be completely missed.

Then there's ghosting. It's not entirely new, but it's far more prevalent. 

On Dating: Keeping (and Letting Go of) Connections
Think back to the courage it takes to make a phone call, to walk up to a person in person and strike up a conversation, to ask someone for their number and to, gasp, ask them on a date. I can still remember the beating of a heart, the excitement and curiosity of what's left to discover and hoping to get a phone call and then another and maybe another.

Now text messaging seems to have made it entirely too simple to ignore or to "forget" or to completely let the other person go until they get the hint. Ghosting is the act of blatantly not responding or doing so in such a distant way the other person gives up.

Ghosting may seem like an easy way out of communicating with someone, but it's cowardly, rude, and mean. I know I am guilty of this; I think we have all unplugged from someone once or twice before.
Yet, in writing a news story about ghosting my moral compass set in.  I get it if it's a first date and there is every reason why there should not be a second. Maybe the person across the table has a drug problem -- I understand the significant need to disconnect from that person. However, even if the person doesn't want children and you do, extend them some courtesy.

Let's give it a try, here's a scenario:

You're just about ready to order a second glass of wine at your dinner as you enjoy your first evening with a new woman or a new guy. You're thinking, 'maybe this time...' and then he or she says, "I'm not sure I really want children." I understand the desire to continue sitting at the table straight through dinner and until you get home to leave this really important issue under the tablecloth. The only problem with this is that the other person has no idea what you're thinking. He or she is going home hoping for a call and won't get one. They'll likely wonder what they did, what they said, and why there's no text or phone call. 

Here's what to do instead:

DATE: "I'm  not sure that I really want to have children."
YOU: "You know, I respect your standpoint on this, but it's really important to me to become a mother/father. I like you and have enjoyed our conversation, but it's not going to work between us."

Give the other person the benefit of knowing what you're about to do and why. It may make their next relationship better. Yes, I could have taken my own advice in the past.

On Friendship: Staying Connected

Many years ago, before text messages could result in being ghosted someone wrote me a letter saying they simply had to put me  - and us - on hold. It stung and probably messed me up and many relationships along the way. The brutal honesty that someone can just choose to let go, walk away, or give up was completely foreign to me until I turned 13.

In the years that follow, as we grow older, friendship takes a twist. We try hard to  keep the line open, but then we go to different colleges, move away, get married, have children and life changes. It's not the same, but there's a reason we all became friends in the first place.

Recently, many of these "latent" friendships have rekindled and reignited. Sometimes, and unfortunately, it takes something tragic to bring people back together. Gosh, how awful it is when we suddenly realize we may have taken for granted that someone may always be there. Then, the reality of the temporal nature of our lives sets in and we know someone may not always be there.

I'm grateful for today.

I'm learning to show my gratitude actively and often for those in my life, those I choose and those who chose me.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

On Writing: Having the Outgoing Guts to Do It

Have you ever finished reading a book and wanted more? Is there ever a moment you finish reading even an email or a text message and respond just to get another message in return? Do you find yourself so connected to the writing of the message you don't want to put it, whatever it is, down? Some readers find themselves feeling with the writer or the narrator, dreaming with him or her, and wake up maybe realizing what they really want is "that" moment, "that" person, "that" experience that some writer has put out into the world for people, or in some cases one person, to know about.

I know what it's like. I do. Unfortunately, sometimes I'm the one doing the writing and staring at a blank space wanting to put my own words down in addition to reading or hoping for someone else's words to read.

Writer's crisis averted -

My loving mother came up with a beautiful idea for me to start writing once again in a space beyond the pages of an online blog, journal, or rapid-fire text messages. More on that to come.

I now find myself mentally thumbing through the moments that are writable. Everything is writable if you have the outgoing guts to do it. The very act of writing, whether it's a novel or a letter in the mail, heck a text message, is such an act of vulnerability we open ourselves up to letting people see how we see and experience the world.

Writers have an intimate relationship with words. I certainly cannot just choose a word to fill a space without understanding my full intention with the sentence it is within. I think I now understand the verbosity of my father's emails and earlier, his cards and letters, and the time in which it took for him to express those heartfelt words.

I pause and think about how brave some writers must be, how lonely and maybe afraid they may have been at times to put out into the world that which was brewing within them. On the flip side, I know there's a light bursting energy of joy when this process occurs. The hope is somehow, at least for me, to conjure some emotion or feeling that perhaps the reader didn't know they could feel or has been feeling, but didn't quite know how to identify it. The hope is somehow maybe someone feels a little less alone, a little less lonely, incredibly brave and fully alive from age five to age 75.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Reflections on Ordinary Loss, Ordinary Grace

I like this quote. 

I feel it within my soul. It is truth.
It is a simple truth as this memory involving someone for whom I still mourn pops up.

"Each individual mourns differently,  but I have now witnessed how many people suppress their grief for fear of upsetting others." ~ Cora Neumann ~

I believe we must let go of the stigma of sadness because it is only through these passages of time we may arrive at great joy. If we don't allow ourselves to feel the "missing" of even the most mundane losses, we won't reap the benefits of experience.
It's hard to explain to a child why she must leave the safe and familiar place of an elementary school to endure the challenges of junior high. The transition, recognition and acceptance of change is an enriching experience which will make her a more resilient teen.
When I moved from the Tri-Cities in Washington at the ripe young age of 7, I did not know I would never return to my childhood neighborhood. I did not know my experience as a child as I knew it would become a distant memory. It may have been one of my earliest experiences with loss. I remember hoping for my friends to “reveal themselves” to me in my new classroom at my new school in my new town. I believed my new friends were just my friends with masks on. Yes, I had and still have an active imagination. At any rate, it is these ordinary losses that become the very experiences that shaped who I am today. They, and all others like them, are the graces I may have not wanted but God knew I would need.
The gradual experience of mourning, the mourning of any passing person or experience in life prepares us all for the next great adventure.
Even the leaves turn to brown in the Fall only to drop and fade into the ground so that the tree from which it fell may rise even taller and prepare to display beautiful new growth in the Spring.