Monday, May 18, 2009

Musings on connections.

The clock radio woke me up at 2 AM. It seems only minutes since I went to sleep. Thoughts of the early rising and facing the day ahead have made sleep fleeting. The radio announcer sounds as tired as I feel. Folks working the midnight watch are often at the beginning or the end of their careers. Not always, I guess. Some people like the third watch. Like Conchscooter who seems to enjoy haunting the dark streets on breaks. Either way, they're working the hours nobody else wants. Eager rookie cops run the streets in the dead of the night. Old and tired night watchmen work the same hours. Meager pensions need to be supplemented. I'm feeling pretty old and tired myself lately. All the work hours are taking their toll on me.

I've been summoned to the Mothership. These summons are coming more frequently in this economy. Corporate bean counters are in a panic. They've whipped themselves into a frenzy. Now they imagine a situation like in the photo above. I took a picture of a mural on a wall. It pretty much sums things up. Now we have meetings all the time to talk about how close Moby Dick has come. I guess they feel some comfort in group discussions. Unlike Captain Kirk, I have no transporter beam. My transport is rubber on asphalt. For hundreds of miles and many hours. I don't really want to go but I am compelled. I like my career and the freedom that comes with it. Freedom isn't really free, however. So I am once more making the trip.

Elvira's saddled up and we're on the road by 3 AM. You'd think there would be nobody else on the freeway this early. Once upon a time, but not true now. I'm fondly remembering the old days in Central Washington. Working the hours nobody else wanted. A side benefit was pulling the car to the side of the road. I'd turn off the lights on a clear night. There would be nothing but the stars, the man, and his God. These days I'm going to have to go much farther out to be closer to God.

Traffic's light enough to allow some pondering. A sane man would probably go up the night before. I've done that in the past. It means being away from Katie more. It seems I seldom see her as it is. If you believe the stereotype I'm not normal. Guys married for over three decades are supposed to like getting away from the wife. Being "normal" really hasn't been my thing. Why change now? I love being with Katie. Thus my day will be 19 hours long. 10 of them will be spent on the bike. That's not all bad. The ride home will require extra concentration. Driving rain and a stiff headwind are hard riding anytime. It will be especially difficult in my tired state. Elvira and I had a small misfortune on the return journey. Perhaps I will share it later. Now is the time to speak of other things. So says the walrus.

By 5:30 the day is just starting to dawn. Elvira and I are in Woodland, Washington. Her and I are both ready for some octane. Sophie would go all the way up on a tank of fuel. Elvira won't. She could go farther before we stop. Now is the time that works for me. I want to watch the sun come up over coffee. Actually, it's raining. I'll have to use my imagination. The frontage road has a Safeway fuel station and a Starbucks. The bike and I can both get what we need.

A dark haired girl named Annie greets me in Starbucks. Her hair is short around her face. Annie has dark eyes and a round pretty face. Annie is quite cheerful. Her dark eyes sparkle with barely contained mischief. Annie is the quintessential picture of a pixie. I warm up to her immediately. My being on the bike in the rain seems to capture her interest. She asks about my ride. Annie tells me she's headed to Seattle the next day. Some of her friends are going to a large zoo. Annie tells me she likes going to the zoo. However, she doesn't like the animals. It's an intriguing contrast.

Rolling once again, I think about Annie and her zoo trip. An editorialist in the newspaper made mention of a human zoo. Those who blog, tweet, and post on Facebook are the animals. Maybe it seems so on the surface. Maybe the writer has a personality defect. I take time to ponder that as I ride. Part of my brain is engaged in musing. Attention still needs to be on traffic in the rain.

I agree that ten minute tweet updates are a little extreme. I am an interesting person. Nobody needs to know what I'm doing each minute of the day. It would be arrogant on my part to think differently. My thoughts turn to bloggers. We are a diverse and interesting group. Tim in Utah stated once that we blog because we want to share. That's true. I share information in my blog. Does it really matter in the big picture? It does not. Then why share? Why do I feel compelled to keep blogging? Bear with me here. I am riding in the rain. It is still early. I am running on little sleep. Sometimes that is when we have our deepest insights.

I believe that humans have a need to connect with each other. There are exceptions. I am talking in generalities. Think about times past. Before our modern fast paced lifestyle. People sitting on front porches. Chatting with neighbors strolling by. Men gathered in barbershops. Church socials. Women gathering to quilt, sew, or preserve foods. Market day for farmers. People of like interests meeting each afternoon for coffee. These are but few of many examples. My musings tell me that our circumstances have changed. Our deep needs have not. I see now what the editorialist did not. Recent events have proven my insight to be accurate.

You may have noticed. I walked away from blogging for a bit. Too much time spent at work. Too little energy left after that. I've blogged for years. What is left to say? There's only so much riding wisdom to dispense. Only so many unique things to note. When I started blogging I was one of a very few. Now there are many. Who would notice the absence of a single voice? Such was my thinking. During my wet ride I was thinking of connections. That is the real secret of our world.

On our blogs we share of ourselves. It is not an effort to draw attention. I believe that we share for a different reason. I share so you will share. We are interested in each other. We reach out hoping that others will do the same. Learning about you makes my life richer. It is the essence of human contact. We learn from each other. We affirm each other. We benefit from each other. Often we are entertained by each other. Doing so in person is preferable. Today's world robs those opportunities from us. Thus we connect by means of the internet. Using cyberspace makes the connections no less valid. In some ways it can be richer. People all over the world can come together here. We come to know and treasure those we would never meet in person.

Blogs are about the connection, not the content. That's my two cents worth.

A new visitor to our blogs made a comment on mine. He had read many of the comments. One statement rang clear. He stated that it was evident we all cared deeply for each other. I didn't really appreciate to what extent. Until now.

I am deeply touched by those who expressed concern for me recently. It's nice to realize that one is missed. The comments have reinforced the value of the connections we have made. I was surprised by how many have made comment. My own son called to see if I was ok. As I am writing this I received an e-mail. Here's a snippet.

I received this e-mail this morning from a student. Sounds like they are worried about you.

Dan Bateman hasn’t posted anything on his blog since 23 April.
Is he OK?

This was forwarded to me from TEAM OREGON headquarters. The writer knows I am an instructor and used that means to check on me. I cannot tell you how touched I am.

So I end this with my gratitude. Thank you for caring. Thank you for sharing. Our blog based relationships are truly precious. Value them as I do. In the final tally that is what we are left with. Material things come and go. Personal connections are the true gems.

Today I am headed over the Cascades to Central Oregon. I need to rack up more paid miles to pay for my BMW. :) I'm looking forward to catching up on all your blogs. I've missed you more than you know.

Miles and smiles,