I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Pondering the virtual world

Final frozen rose of the year

 It's another one of those Sunday mornings when I don't really know what to write about, what's uppermost in my mind, or even what I might find interesting to share. Then my blogging friend John, who lives in Seattle, sent me an email yesterday, with this query in it:

In your very first post, Sunday, December 6, 2009, you said, "Already I feel the excitement of creation. I'm going to allow it to unfold and see where I go with it." So, here we are nearly 12 years later. From your viewpoint how has it unfolded? 

My theme for this day was born with that question! I won't be able to share all the wonders of more than a decade of this blog, but I can make a start with it, for sure. I began this particular blog with the idea of chronicling my life, covering all my marriages (I've had four but the best one is the present one) and the loss of my children, and how I fell into a job that became a career, with a boss who believed I could do anything and gave me the opportunity to try. He was a senior scientist at NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) and wrote many books, with me as his partner. We were a good team.

But then I got to the present moment, and it began taking a different tack: writing about my daily life, and things that interest me. It got more contemplative and introspective as the years went on, and John reminded me that all those posts (632 as of today) are still available for perusal, by me or others. Only writing once a week, on Sunday mornings, it amazes me that more than six hundred weeks have passed since I began this journey.

On my other blog, which I wrote daily until I ran out of material and cut back to twice a week, I have over two thousand posts, some good and some not so good, but heck, it's been quite an interesting journey. Of the two blogs, this one is my favorite, because I've given myself the option of going wherever the wind takes me. But being someone who falls into routine quite quickly, I have restricted myself in various ways. Can't be helped: I am who I am. But if I had to choose between them, I'd take this blog, hands down.

I don't go back and re-read much of what I've written, but I guess it might be a good thing to do, since retrospection and reminiscence come naturally to me. But there's still so much new stuff to read in the world that I haven't even started, that I probably won't. It is the difference between looking back and looking ahead at new ideas and new possibilities. 

John also asked me how I feel about the difference between real versus virtual friends. Well, John, that is a very curious observation, because I don't find much difference in importance between them. I get to interact with my virtual friends through comments and personal blogs much more than I do with "skin" friends, since we spend time together in both respects, but it's deeper and often more meaningful in the virtual realm. I have learned so much through personal blogs, and I see the virtual friendships as essential to my happiness and continued growth as a person.

As the Internet of things advances, the very notion of a clear dividing line between reality and virtual reality becomes blurred, sometimes in creative ways. —Geoff Mulgan

I have been heavily influenced by the interests and concerns of those people who have become my friends and who write personal blogs about their lives. Some are blessed with large families, and some have no family at all. I missed out on having grandchildren but truly enjoy watching the babies of other families as they grow up and become adults. And I am reminded once again how the fertile ground of human existence can be watered and fertilized by our interactions, changing the direction of many, the trajectory of our lives blossoming with creative energy. It's really rather astounding when you think about it.

There have been accidental (or maybe meaningful coincidences) stories and occurrences that my virtual friends have written about that changed my life for the better. I am reminded that I learned about Olga Kotelko from a Facebook friend when Olga died at 95. That sent me on a journey to find all that I could about her. She set more records as a senior athlete than anyone could have imagined, and she began her athletic career at 65 after retiring as a teacher. 

One curious thing I learned about her and her senior athletic friends is that many of them were followers of the Five Tibetan Rites, a series of exercises that many of them swore by. I started doing them, too, and still these days I don't miss a day. Once I get out of bed and get dressed, I step out onto my front porch and perform 21 repetitions of them. It only takes about ten minutes, but now I cannot imagine missing that practice. All because of a virtual friend who pointed me in that direction. I've written about them before, but they are worth checking out. I do have skin friends who have taken up the practice, too.

By the time I write here next week, I will have had another birthday. It's the last one in my seventies, and then I get to start being an octogenarian! Boy, the seventies sure have gone by quickly. I suspect that it will be the same with the eighties, which will keep me writing here until I cannot any longer. The practice of writing gives me so much pleasure, and the fun of reading the writings of others sparks new directions in my thinking and my life. So in conclusion, I can truly say I am enriched by this practice of writing in my blog and reading the reflections of all my dear virtual friends.

And with that, I will sign off for the week, and I will continue here once again next week with who knows what topic! Until we meet again next week, I wish you, dear friends, the very best week ahead. My partner still sleeps next to me, and I am finished with my tea and now looking forward to beginning the rest of my Sunday. Be well.


Tabor said...

You have given me pause. I must look up the stats on my own blog. Like yours, it started as a journal for me, myself and I and I never thought I would have readers!

Marie Smith said...

I look forward to the blog entries of all my virtual friends as well. I find myself wondering how everyone is doing. It would be really hard to stop following along with their lives. When one virtual friend died quite suddenly a few years ago, I was drawn back to her blog numerous times, almost expecting to see her musings appear again.

The pandemic has made blogging even more Important to my life. I am happy to read both of your blogs and you always make me think on Sunday mornings. Thank you, Jan.

Elephant's Child said...

I had no idea when I first started blogging how real and how precious the friends I have found here would become. So many of them (and definitely you) have become very precious to me. I learn from them, I laugh with them, I weep with and for them...

Anvilcloud said...

I started my blog on a whim, mainly because blogs were then new, and that interested me. It has always been about daily thoughts and events and, of course, photos. Some posts go deep, most don't. I do have it in mind to publish some in book form for the few that will survive me, but I never seem to get around to it.

Rian said...

DJan, you mention the difference between skin friends and virtual friends... I too find that interesting. Some of my skin friends live far away and we only communicate through texts, Skype, and/or Zoom (although we have been together at some time in our lives).
And since the pandemic, this is true for most of my local skin friends too. We don't get together physically any more... but still stay in touch.

This does blur the lines between virtual friends (blog friends who we have possibly never met) and skin friends. I find that I want to keep in touch with both. And being who I am, I don't need too many friends... so the few I keep in touch with are important to me. I look forward to hearing from them - whether by their posts or comments and am generally interested in how they are doing. It's a strange world... but I'm happy and delighted to share it.
BTW, I did check out that Yogic Breathing Guide... and still enjoying The Dalai Lama's Cat series.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, One of the pleasures of blogging, for me at least, is being able to look back in the Archive, which, in a way, gives the chance to enjoy the past again. I did that just now to see when I first started following Eye on the Edge. In my very first comment for you, (your post of Sunday, September 29, 2013) here is what I said, “Hi DJan, Your posts are just fascinating! I really enjoy the way you are able to get such an excellent perspective on life and put it all into words. Not an easy thing to do by any means. How great to be able to look back and share so candidly. Those of us who have found "Eye on the Edge" are lucky ... a special find indeed. Thank you for sharing. John” After reading today’s post I do believe I could say exactly the same thing. :-) Thank you kindly for answering my questions. You really do have a special ability to look back and write about your experiences in a most interesting way. In today’s post I especially liked your distinction between virtual and “skin” friends. I usually hear skin friends referred to as “real” friends but that seems awkward because sometimes skin friends are not really friends as much as some of the virtual ones. It’s another interesting development thanks to the evolution of the world wide web. Congratulations on 632 interesting blog posts! Wishing you and SG a fine week ahead! John

Linda Reeder said...

I actually slept eight hours last night, the first time in a very long time, so I am coming to your Sunday post late. I really enjoyed this post. Blogging is what we all have in common and it seems we all like to think back on our blog life. I started mine when we took a trip to Europe, as a way for my family to "go along". I never expected other people to find it, but they did! You did! Now my virtual friends are closer to me that some of my actual family.
It doesn't seem possible that I have been following you for that long, although I did not find your Sunday blog when you first started and when I did I was compelled to go back and catch up, and get all of your story.
Blogging has become a creative outlet for me as well as a wonderful connection with friends I may never meet person. As I have developed more and more interest in photography my blog has become my way to share this interest, and I do also like to write.
Thanks for this post, DJan. When I get more time, I will have to go back and look at some things I posted "long ago". But like you, I will not be lingering in the past. There is always something new in the here and now.

Arkansas Patti said...

I like the term "skin friends" so much more than "real friends". My virtual friends are just as precious as my skin ones, in fact we sometimes connect more on our blogs than I do with my skin ones, especially since to Covid. Isn't it wonderful that we virtual ones never have to wear masks or social distance.
I do reread my old posts, only when I see someone else has stumbled upon one. It makes me realize how different our times have gotten.

Galen Pearl said...

You said that you don't go back to read much of what you've written, but when you do, what do you think about it? Sometimes I go back when I'm looking for a particular post, and I find something I wrote years ago that still resonates with me. Or it brings back a memory. Kind of interesting.

Always love catching up with you!!

ApacheDug said...

Well DJan, I remember coming across your blog (Eye on the Edge) a couple years ago, and being very impressed with your writing but thinking "I have nothing in common with this woman so I'll just keep quiet" and then you wrote a piece about your parents in their early days and I couldn't stay silent any longer. You're one of the few I don't "interactively communicate" with, but I still consider you a friend--and I still think you're the reincarnation of Amelia Earhart. :^)

Linda Myers said...

I met you in our blogs, but now we're skin friends as well. I loved this post.

I started my blog six months before I quit my last job, when I was afraid I'd become a bag lady. That has been a while!

At the end of each year, I use https://www.blog2print.com/ to make a book of my postings for the year. I have 10 years of them on my coffee table. Every now and then I read through them. Still pretty interesting.

Red said...

You've given me lots to think about. We learn much from other bloggers but there's more than that. There's support and encouragement. Your practice in Yoga has increased your quality of life. Non bloggers have no Idea of the relationships we form. Great post.

Rita said...

Okay--you made me look. June 10, 2006--15 years plus--2,366 posts. I started my blog because I had moved away from my friends and family in Minneapolis and it was a new way to keep in touch with the few who had a personal computer. I used to write often but for a long time it's been once a week due to health issues being even worse than there were. ;) I can't imagine not blogging. I've met wonderful, inspirational people like you.

gigi-hawaii said...

It has been one helluva ride! Imagine, you are 79 and next year you will be 80. Cannot believe it, because you still hike and I cannot even at age 75.

EJ said...

Happy Birthday! Thanks for all of your thoughtful posts.

Sheila said...

Your blogs are the reason we spent two lovely summers in Bellingham, hiking all the routes you mentioned, going to the outdoor market and discovering (before you, I think) Shirley Bird, our favorite coffee place.

William Kendall said...

A couple of bloggers I've known have passed away. I have met a couple of others.

The Liberty Belle said...

What a thought provoking question John posed! This was a such a good post. I'm inclined to agree with you regarding our blogging friends.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Happy Happy Birthday!! Today is your birthday!! Hope your day was great! I should have sent a card, I have been so wrapped up with the move and settling in I am still back in November! I wish you the bestest birthday ever! I use my blog as a diary of what happened when...used it recently to find out when Far Guy started his Thursday Infusions....so for me that is good thing!

Glenda Beall said...

Happy Birthday! 80 is not so bad if you keep your health. I consider you and Elephant Child two of my best friends even though it is unlikely we will ever meet in person. Through your blog posts, I have come to know you so well and I like the person I know. I began my blog in 2007. Haven't checked to see how many posts I have written, but it has been lots. I also began my second blog, www.glendacouncilbeall.com in 2010 and try to do what you do - write at least one post each week. Thanks for this post even though I was late to read it.