Get Me Out of Here!

Notes from Sunday 29 March:

I’ve been away from the internet since 7am this morning; the last time I scrolled through my notifications, checked over the control panel of my blog. I’ve been in class, learning in real time. My hands haven’t touched my keyboard. I’ve been making notes in my notebook, like, with a PEN. It feels, frankly, weird.

Being in a learning environment with all those other souls feels different, too. In a strange but familiar way.  I’m in the first retreat block of the Leadership Programme I am part of. It’s day one, two more to go. I quickly get a bit peopled out, but I console myself with the idea that soon, I’ll have some one on one time with my laptop.
Being off the internet feels weird.

So when I get to my room, (Yes!  Sudima Hotel has free wifi!), I instantly seek out my old friend. There’s a sigh of contentment as I lift my laptop over onto my lap.  Hello sweetheart.  Let’s go exploring…

Except a pop-up window keeps telling me that my usual pages are all, ‘untrusted connections’. It won’t let me validate the security certificates.  Just one option is available on my screen. ‘Get Me Out Of Here’.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 7.36.01 am

But I don’t want to get out of here! I’ve been getting twitchy withdrawal feelings from my internet; my friend.  I miss it. I miss what it shows me, where it takes me, who it connects me with. I keep trying, like a drug seeker after that familiar hit. I’m no quitter.

Then my roomie starts conversing with me. And the conversation captures me!  Before I know it, my laptop is sliding sideways onto the bed. I’m listening. We’re talking, laughing, covering the deep stuff.  Travelling the world and traversing through time.  Connecting like old friends.  That feels nicely weird, too; we are talking about things it would usually take established friends some time to reach!   I close the lid and turn to laugh at something she just said.  We giggle and adjust our volume so we don’t wake up the people in the neighbouring room.

Connecting with real people in real time is exhausting for me. I like respite.  Alone time. It helps me to recharge when I have some solitary time.  So I am surprised that I have spent an entire day, deeply immersed in the learning.  Engaging with all the individual souls in my programme.  Talking, listening, talking, talking… and then come to my room and talk some more. We talk until midnight gives us pause.  My brain is whirring somewhere high above my sleepy self.

A little thought skips through my mind as I close my eyes. How interesting that my ‘untrusted connection’ warning on the internet has left me open to a real and trusting connection in real life.  Kismet. Coincidence.  Connection in a dis-connected, digitally connected world.  I like it when life gives me gifts like that conversation.  To be present is the present.

Goodnight.
And internet? I’ll see you when I get out of here, my old friend. Til then I’ll be immersed in some other kinds of connection …and you won’t miss me at all!

Making Peace : Days Like These

I guess we all feel a bit awkward, thrust into a new group of people.  I think it is part of the human condition.  I went to so many schools when I was growing up that I did some crazy things trying to get people to notice me, to see who I was, beyond the be-spectacled, nerdy hand-raiser.  I was those things, but I was much more besides. I wanted them to get to know me faster, I wanted to find my kind of people and put myself out of my social purgatory misery.  Friends make the world go round.

I have a few dearly treasured friends these days.  People who are with me in person.  Supportive, wonderful women who are strong and wise and warm and funny.  Girls who ‘get me’.  I hope to have those friendships forever.

And then there are my online friends. I never thought I would have online friends. I didn’t know how to make friends online. But the people I have met through my support group for Dysautonomia and the people I have met through my blogging course, I now count among my best friends. I have been welcomed with open arms by people who ‘get me’. When a dear online friend died this year, it opened up a gaping wound of grief that has not closed.  It’s hard to understand how that is possible, but it is.  I’ve ‘met’ people who have changed my world from lonely to lovely. Warm fuzzy loveliness.  Connection instead of isolation.  These friendships are as real as those with people I can see and touch.

It is interesting to think that we have all met because of our struggles and shared pursuits. We reach out to each other from our solitude and we are no longer alone.  There is a deep resource of empathetic, beautiful souls out there; sharing experiences and caring for each other across the digital desert.  Beautiful people.  One day I would love to meet each one of them and wrap my arms around them in person.  Hello out there my friends.  You mean a lot to me.

I have a new group of friends, too.  A group that is just starting to build and grow.  People who read my words here.  I am so glad you are here. Everyone of us has difficulties we face and my hope is that no matter what yours are, you’ll find empathy here, with me.  I look forward to getting to know you, don’t be shy, make comments and I will respond, I promise.

Today I was listening to Janis Ian, one of the world’s most talented singer songwriters.  She wrote that song ‘At Seventeen’.  But she also sang this song.  I’d like to dedicate it today to my online friends.  Here’s to you out there, because even on ‘days like these’… you help me to make my peace.  I hope that I can help you make yours, too.