INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Reconnection / Sister Envy / Gratitude

You know that someone is the genuine article when, the moment you see her after an absence of eighteen years, the connection is instantaneous, unchanged, and it feels like eighteen days, not years, have transpired.

Our dear friend, Barbara, is just such a person. Greeting us in her feng-shui-influenced, airy home with sweeping views of the Carson River Valley in Northern Nevada, the years magically evaporated as we reveled in our reconnection.

A wonderful weekend of non-stop, engaging conversation—the kind of mutual, personal depth-exploring that happens all too rarely with so few others.

Twenty-five years ago, I seemed to have several of these types of relationships. What the hell happened? Is it just the times? (Personal exploration was all the rage, of course, back in the 70’s).

Is it my having let such relationships slide? (Reconnection with Barbara is an encouraging correction of that grievous error).

Is it being a male? That’s not an excuse, but I have no doubt that it makes it more difficult.

Elaine has written of her envy of the companionship that I enjoy with my wife as I move toward the “golden years.” Believe me, I’m more than thankful for my good fortune on that score.

But, I must say, I have some reverse envy of Elaine, who seems to have a number of these deeply satisfying and spiritually renewing kinds of relationships with others (mostly, if not all, women, I assume).

So does my wife. Jill regularly enjoys a lunch or cocktail get-together with soul-sisters with whom she can exchange intimate feelings.

I know some wonderful guys and it’s great fun to see them and shoot the shit about politics, sports, old Army stories, and what our kids are doing. But that’s about as far as it goes. It’s a pleasant diversion, not renewal and self-revelation like I was able to enjoy with Barbara this weekend.

Blogging is far from a complete solution, but it sure helps. Thank you Ev, Dave, Doc, Dr. W, Chris, Eric, and all the other early adopters, promoters, and enablers of the blogosphere for opening up this universe for the rest of us—particularly we aging, isolated males.

Thanks too to tireless aggregators like Hylton Jolliffe, among others, who help to keep us abreast of what’s out there. The universe that all of these gifted folks have facilitated also made it possible for an old friend like Barbara to find a disappeared guy like me and to reach out.

Barbara paid me what I regard as the best compliment that I’ve ever received as a blogger. “When I discovered your blog and started reading it,” Barbara remarked, “I said to myself, ‘this is precisely the Tom that I knew and remember.’“

Huddling together around a chimney lamp-lit table in a genuine Old West saloon, we discussed blogging, among other things. Barbara asked, “What are the rules of blogging?”

I replied that there aren’t any except those that one adopts as one’s own: “My number one self-imposed rule is that, if I want to enjoy the fruits of the blogosphere, then I need to give something back. By this standard, I’m obliged to overcome my resistance and to write about myself as authentically as I can.”

On my better days, self-expression may be the by-product of the motivation, but it’s not the real motivator. For me, gratitude to the blogging community is the true spark.

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