These are some random thoughts around the theme of connection, which has been on my mind very much lately. Expect some curmudgeon-ish talk.
Last night I went to our Tiny Pricks Project gathering, and I was thirty years older than the other three women there. I enjoyed it thoroughly. There was even a baby photo and conversation about teething. And that put my thoughts to work: my angst right now is as much about aging as anything else.
For most of my life I have been the youngest in the crowd. I was a late-in-life surprise baby and my siblings are 8-9 years older than me. I dated boys and men who were older. I married a man who is nine years older than me. I have always preferred the company of older people. So here I am and my friends are increasingly younger. I feel the generation gap. The graduate students often see me as a mother or grandmother figure. Of course their experiences and concerns are different from mine, and if I let myself, I can enjoy listening to them and learn from that, and I will have to get over being shocked if they aren’t familiar with 70s bands and didn’t live in a pre-Internet world and have a definition of sexism that is far more sensitive than the blatant sexism and harassment I experienced. I am not the youngest in the crowd any more. OK Boomer!
I will probably never understand the obsession of some people with being connected to other people constantly on their phones. What’s with the earbuds that are permanent installations on some heads? When I worked for a call center I couldn’t wait to get off the phone so I can’t imagine being wired in during my personal life. Often I don’t answer the phone. If it’s important, they can leave a message or text or email. I don’t get helicopter parenting. It’s funny how those parents don’t see themselves that way. It is such a different world than the one in which I grew up.
My first forty years were cell phone free and somehow we managed not being constantly connected to everybody else. I resisted getting a smart phone until a few years ago and my main reason in finally getting one was for GPS and being able to upload photos. My other influence is my mother, who was more than willing to let her kids go and I doubt very much that we were on her mind every minute of the day. In fact, I am pretty sure that she probably went for hours not thinking about us. In return, she created three very independent adults.
Any kind of loss is very difficult for me, but I can be separated for a long time without anxiety. Friends have broken my heart much more often than lovers. About thirty years ago I decided not to chase after friends who had disengaged and let them come to me if they wished. Most of the time they didn’t, and I was better off. I recently reconnected with one of those friends.
I can also admit that I have been that friend who disengaged. And those who let me go were better off as well.
So I simply feel lost in this century with its constant distractions from what is directly in front of us. I am a victim of these distractions as much as anyone. I have to find a way back to the here and now of my life, and I need to find a way to connect with others without making myself crazy.
The joys of social media are real, and have added a positive dimension to my life that could not have come from anywhere else. Those few folks that don’t do it ask me, where do you find out about these workshops and retreats? Facebook. How did you find out about this artist? Instagram.
Where do I draw the line? Giving up Facebook and Instagram is not an option, not only because of the positive aspects, but because Facebook is part of my job.
I need to get outside more often and leave the phone and camera behind. I love photography but experiencing life through the lens of a camera or the potential shot is not fully connecting. I am very, very tired of technology right now.