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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Consider This My Facebook For Now

Sometimes I can’t find things I’ve written. Two years ago one of our faculty retired after teaching kindergarten in our school for 29 years. I wrote a poem to give her at that time, and she put it in a scrap book. She moved to Iowa to live with her sister, and this past June she passed away unexpectedly. I was asked to provide some thoughts to share at her funeral. I could not find the poem anywhere—not a hard copy, not a draft on any of the three computers where I may have written it (and I could not remember which computer I had used to do that). I never did find it, but a copy of it is in Judy’s scrapbook of notes from friends now treasured by her sister no doubt.

I’ve lost other things, too. The nice thing about my Patterns of Ink blog, is I’ve been writing here for six years now. Some months more than others as one can tell by the archives. Occasionally, I have reason to find an old post or poem that I know is in here somewhere, and I’ll begin searching through the archives. I begin talking to myself as I do, “Seems like I wrote that in March, but was it March last year. Nope not there. How ‘bout March of 2008?” Then I’ll find it March of 2007 and say, “Oh, my! Has it been three years since I wrote that?” and a strange sense of lost time sweeps over me.

A trick I sometimes forget to use is a Google search. How strange is that? That I can type the three words "Patterns of Ink" followed by a post title, and to my amazement the link appears, sifted out from billions of internet links afloat in cyberspace like dust specks in the sunbeam of my childhood bedroom after jumping on the bed. Powerful stuff we’re playing with here on this thing we call the web.

The thing I notice when I dig in the archives is that the social aspect of the comment section was once a major part of the process. That aspect has vanished. This is due to many changes: For years, blogging was a two-way process for me. I wrote here but I read at other blogs and left comments at other sites. Those readers would in turn read here and comment. Some of you may be reading now, and I apologize that my blog “visits” have dwindled in this past year. I truly miss the interaction and my writing misses the dimension of being honed by your input.

But the truth is, during the peak of this site’s active months (years?), I spent too much time in that alternate world—now maybe not enough. I was working through some grief by way of writing. The “Duncan Phyfe” chapters I wrote based on phone calls to my mother in her last year of a fight with cancer. The “Unsettled” chapters I wrote in the aftermath of her death. Writing helped me immeasurably, and the support of readers I do not even know in real life was an added blessing.

I’m a grandpa now, and my second daughter is engaged, and my third daughter is very active in school, etc. etc. etc. It seems harder and harder for me to stay up late at night or rise in the wee small hours of the morning and write as I am doing now.

The other thing that I think has changed the social aspect of blogging is Facebook. I know many of you are now much more active in Facebook than you are in your neglected blogs. This is commendable, I suppose. Facebook, afterall, is current—ever changing, ever growing, ever connecting, ever posting the present for all to see. I have not yet jumped on the Facebook bandwagon—for two reasons:

Time. I’ve been caught up in similar thing in the blogosphere, and I now watch my friends and family spend hours in an alternate world discovering more things about more “friends” than humans were ever intended to know. I know I would get caught up in it just as deeply. Sure, I would love to connect with old friends, and if I ever do join Facebook, it will be for that reason.

But this brings up the other reason I am hesitant to dive face-first into Facebook. The term “friend” is used like some sort of social score. How many friends do you have? How many friends can you truly keep up with? How many shirt-tale, score card “friends” do you want in your family and personal business? Maybe I’m wrong, but ask yourself this question if you are in the Facebook world. Have you heard this exchange yet? “So and so asked to be my friend. I don’t think I want to be their friend.” Or “I’m going to drop them from my friend list.” I could be wrong, but it seems like a middle school nightmare. It seems like a Charlie Brown Valentine’s Day, and I’m just not ready for it yet.

So for now, I’ll just stick with my old-school brown-paper-bag blog. I’ll try to post at least once a week. If I start another writing project, it will probably unfold here, but this is a year, I have promised myself and my family to focus more in the present, and as my family has been saying for years… “Take the leap, Dad. Pick some stuff, tweak it and proof it, and try to get it published. So I will be doing that… I think… and no doubt it will really start feeling like a Charlie Brown Valentine’s Day, as I begin to collect rejection letters, but I think it will be healthy process that will result in better balance of my time and clearer focus of my future pastime priorities.

Any advice is welcome.

Here is what a friend sent me:

SLOW DOWN! Robert Putnam ("Bowling Alone") alerted us to the growing trend of "friendlessness" in America. Though the average Facebook-er has 130 "friends," most Americans have no one with whom he or she can share soul-revealing joys and fears. Friendship takes time. So we must choose to break the chains of "conspicuous busyness" that promises status but delivers loneliness.
Wilson Quarterly: America: Land of Loners? by Daniel Akst


Americans, plugged in and on the move, are confiding in their pets, their computers, and their spouses. What they need is to rediscover the value of friendship.

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