Dare to Venture

 

The first time I used email was in 1995. I remember feeling so alone and isolated (at first) when we moved to Greece. When we finally could afford a pc, and the tech showed me how to send an email to my best friend who lived in the USA, I cried.

At the time, international phone calls were still so pricey–outrageously so. Those hour-long chats she and I used to have over the phone every Saturday while we cleaned our individual flats, were a thing of the past. To be able to communicate with a friend who knew me so well while I still felt like “a stranger in a strange land” was a gift I can’t describe.

Because I have that memory of isolation, that memory of functioning without the technology we have today, I often think of my friend, June, who, along with her infant son, left her native UK in 1946 aboard the Queen Mary, to live in the USA with her American soldier husband. She was only eighteen. How did she cope, knowing she couldn’t ring up her mum or her friends, and ask of someone she trusted a simple question about infant care, as new mothers do? How did she cope, newly wed to a man who had just lived through one of the most horrific wars of our age?

Technology allows me to “speak” to my friends overseas,or rediscover some I haven’t seen in decades. It’s enriching and rewarding. BUT, to discover the miracle of making new friends over social media, sometimes even getting to meet them in person…

Marvelous. Eye-opening. Educational, and spiritual.

I’ve learned so much about creation outside my little neck of the world simply by being open to conversation with strangers who very quickly become familiar to me. New thoughts, ideas, opportunities come at me from the rectangular metal and plastic object I have sitting on my desk, and it’s taught me that strangers are not that ‘strange,’ and the world is not that scary.

Unless I want it to be. Unless I close myself off from the chance to ask questions, read articles I otherwise might not read, go to sources I’ve never before wandered toward.

We can uncover new information, we can learn, and grow. Or we can seek only validation.

It saddens me to no end that with this golden opportunity, many people still prefer to insulate themselves. To close themselves off into groups that are familiar and comfortable. Private group pages on Facebook, one for people who like Hillary’s pantsuits, another for folks who like Donald’s red ties.

I imagine the conversations within those groups are like living in an echo chamber. “How’d you like that blue pantsuit she wore last week?” “I loved it.” “Me too.” End.

We find memes that parrot our thoughts back to us, and we post them on those pages. We get “likes.”

We never feel wrong. We never feel that we might have missed something. We feel heard, we feel affirmed, we feel smart. And all that makes us feel safe.

But the flip side is anything else feels alien and frightening, so we feel safe ONLY when we’re with our red tie people, or our blue pantsuit people. Which means we won’t dare to venture out, to be bold, to discover and learn.

The flip side is the very technology that can free us from feeling isolated has made it so easy for us to isolate ourselves.To cut ourselves off from any ideas that are not already in our heads too. A new verb, invented by the world of Zuckerberg: “unfriend”.

And so, someone like June who was born in a time when writing a letter was the only way to say hello to familiar folks back home, was forced to journey out into a new world, forced to interact with strangers, forced to be an adventurer. That’s one of the reasons why she is the person she is. Her mind, at age 92, still learning, still discovering, still daring. She hasn’t stopped being brave since she stepped off that ship seventy-three years ago, to walk into a new environment. It might have been scary, but she found out she’d not only survive, but thrive.

How terribly, terribly sad that eighteen-year-old people today, in 2019, have the opportunity to discover, to partake of adventure, right from their comfortable, familiar chairs, just by looking at a tiny screen, just by a click, but they don’t.

Too many of us don’t.

 [Photo of me and my ear friend June, by Joe Bertoldo, at the Queen Mary.  P.S. We  met online.]

Comments

  1. You are both perfectly lovely, and I wish I was sitting there with you. So much to talk about.

    Fran

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