Not been on here for a while - busy busy busy, away in The Toon, and feeling generally uninspired as to what to write about. Not sure I'll put that on my CV when it comes to my aspirations to best selling author-dom, but hey it's true!
My last post inspired quite a few comments - thanks to those who posted on here, on Facebook, or sent me an email. I really enjoy the feedback so please don't be shy. And don't be guilty either - I definitely wasn't saying that electronic communication is bad, or even a poor substitute for the face to face kind. It's an added extra that many of us are grateful for and couldn't imagine being without nowadays.
My post was prompted by and more concerned with the mystery of not always knowing when you are seeing someone for the last time, and how so often it is times of sadness that force us to renew contact. Family funerals are the obvious example - all those aunts and uncles, distant cousins, and promises to meet up again "another time, let's not leave it so long..."
I was pondering this on the tube today - as you do - when I found myself glancing over someone's shoulder at an ad in Metro. If I'm honest I can't quite remember what the ad was for - but I do clearly remember it showed a group of swimmers. Swimming in lanes in a swimming pool. A whole load of thoughts crowded into my brain and I missed Waterloo Station in the rush to find a pen and make some notes. Fortunately I was getting off at Southwark today ;-)
So what profound offering do I have to share? It goes something like this...
Before my surgery I used to swim. Proper swim - like 50 lengths at a time, a couple of times a week at one point, swimming swimathons, raising loads of money, keeping fit and loving it.
Except it could be quite lonely at times - and the picture in the metro brought back memories of hacking up and down the lanes, counting strokes, lengths, fit guys (ahem...), to pass the time till the hot shower. I took stroke improvement lessons, learnt to breathe properly, bought goggles, a swim hat, speedo swimsuit - things got pretty serious.
How different it was from my experience of swimming as a child and young person. Back in the day you'd jump in without noticing the chill, splash around with your friends, pick up tips from others who could swim better and learn to breathe from being dunked. I learned to dive by copying someone who knew how to do it, as we whiled away many a happy afternoon in the pool, not in the least bit bothered by the time or the cold or promises of hot chocolate.
Crazy how comparisons can hit you at times - maybe it's me that's crazy but if so I blame my brain. Whatever it is I was suddenly struck by how for me this sums up a lot of life today. Many of us are oh so busy ploughing our lonesome furrow, counting the hours, days, weeks till the next treat be it the weekend, a holiday or just an evening out. If we need to learn a new skill or how to do things better we seek out professional advice, take lessons, search online. Google is our friend.
Sure this makes us efficient. We use time well, multi-task, upskill. But what do we lose in the process? The joy of living in the moment maybe? Learning from friends who've been there, done that. Messing around, having fun, enjoying a laugh.
Of course we do still learn from friends - we have mentoring schemes. We live in the present - after we've been on a course or attended a seminar on how to. We mess around and enjoy a laugh - the comedy night or drinks in the pub are in the diary (but if we're honest maybe we're going 'cos we feel we ought to - actually we're so tired an evening on the sofa in front of reality TV is way too tempting).
Yesterday - even before I saw that advert and thought about all of this - I was on the brink of closing down all my social networking accounts and taking a hammer to my hard drive. The frustration of email "outage", the news that even when I am logged out Facebook's cookies are tracking my every move, the annoyance you feel when you need something from someone and they don't respond. A whole new power game - or shift - that never existed in the days when we splashed around with our colleagues in the typing pool.
I can pretty much guarantee some of you reading this reckon I am a dinosaur. But I'm not sure that matters to me any more. Perhaps that comes with being sufficiently aware of the benefits and pitfalls of SNS to see them like any other tool - useful but dispensable. We proved that last week and frustrating as it was we got by - even talked to each other ;-)
There are evenings when I sit and check my email, Facebook account(s), Twitter, Google Plus and texts. I don't always have time to reply to - or even read - all the messages. I'm engaged and entertained to a certain extent but often miss that programme I meant to watch, don't get around to that job I meant to do, that call I meant to make. Or I find myself going to bed wishing I'd read another chapter of the book I am currently enjoying. Sometimes I can't sleep - my brain won't switch off and it's impossible to relax. I never felt like that when I'd spent an evening at the pool. Even if I had swum my 50 lengths on my own.
Whilst I've been writing this TweetDeck has alerted me to perhaps 80 new messages. Each one of them interesting, valuable. A communication from someone known to me whose opinion I value. I've also had several emails and carried on a text communication with my mum! I've not checked Facebook but can pretty much guarantee there will be a dozen status updates since I last logged on! I don't know what to say to that - it just feels like communication overload.
This post has been too long and there is more to say but time to leave it for tonight - need to switch off and get back to Jane Eyre ;-)