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WORDS ARE THE VOICE OF THE HEART*
Do you think that what you have to say is less important because it's on the Internet? Would it have more value, ring truer, be BETTER if it were between the covers of a book, printed on newspaper, glossy in a quarterly? Would it be more impressive, or more importantly, carry more weight?

My words fly out into the ether here, roll around on the front page of this journal for a couple of days and then are scrolled under. Soon they're a click away, then two clicks away, then three klicks and suddenly we're talking the distance of kilometers—gone. Light years: out of sight and totally out of mind. Archived, baby. What I tend to forget is that my words aren't just rolling by here, flying away into nothingness. They're a freighted arrow straight into the heart of a friend, the mind of a kindred spirit, the daily routine of a thinker or a dreamer or a person who might have something in common with me on that particular day.

Even if part of what I write here is for myself, a great part of it is me reaching out, hopefully reaching you. Touching a chord. Ringing a bell. Sounding a chime in the depths of relationships that cordon this globe, that begin with me to you and you to me. Did you hear that? That's a special harmony that we're making here: me writing, you reading, you commenting, me responding, and so on. And when you add your own voice, it just deepens and tightens this music of the minds: you writing, me reading, ad infinitum.

I've been journaling online since August 2003. That's six and a half years. You might think I'd be tired of it by now. You might think I've said everything there is to say; begun to run out of steam, begun to repeat myself. You'd be right, some days. Everyone who writes finds their voices blocked sometimes. By self-doubt, by busy lives and other priorities, by deflation and reaction and that niggling little idiot-brain-goblin that pinches you in the creative parts and cuts off your inspiration. Do you think your words matter less because they don't always sparkle in the sun? We're all reaching out, looking for someone to hear us, someone to listen, and someone to say: O! I get it.

Marilyn wrote a post the other day part of which struck me and resonated, but perhaps not for the reasons she might expect:

i have a profound desire to simplify these days. i've noticed over the last year that as that desire has grown stronger, i've had less to say...at least online. quite often i'll log onto Twitter, Facebook or Google Reader and read a lot of tweets, updates and blog posts...and not say anything at all. it's not that i don't feel i have anything to say...it's that i don't feel the need to say something. do you know what i mean? i always prided myself on being a 'good' blog commenter. i wanted my blogging pals to know that i'd read their posts, so i'd try to leave a sincere comment...to say "i hear you." i still hear you...i still care about what's happening in your lives...i guess i've just let go of the need to validate that over and over...and over. those of you who know me (even if you've never met me IRL) understand what kind of person i am. i don't have to comment my ass off to convince you that i care about your lives...you already know that. you know that if you need me, i'm here for you...at least i hope you do. so if i appear to be commenting a lot less, it's not that i'm not reading your posts...it's just that lately i've felt compelled to shut the hell up.

I get this. I can totally relate, in a way. But, if I don't call the friends who live near me and talk to them, invite them over, go out to lunch with them, acknowledge them in some way, our friendships will slide and erode until they are washed away in the general rush and tumble of regular life. If I don't email my mom and my siblings, if I don't write letters to my far-away friends and relations, how exactly are they supposed to know I am thinking about them? How are you? Why should I treat my online relationships any differently? Why would I want to take our relationship for granted? For me, living so far away from so many of my loved ones, this is by no means a way of behaving that I take lightly.

Like Marilyn, I no longer feel that I need to "comment my ass off" but neither do I feel that it's okay to read and never comment, never validate, never acknowledge or listen. I will always try to take the time to let my friends know that I am listening. There are lots of journals and blogs I read that I rarely, if ever, comment on. I can't comment on everything, don't feel the need to, but neither would I consider those writers to be someone close to me and I certainly wouldn't be offended if they didn't consider ME a friend. How could they, if I don't share the basic tenets of friendship with them? It takes two to tango and two, at least to blog: one to write and one to respond. Not just from me to you, but from me to you and you to me and back again.

So, even on those days when my words feel lighter than air, when they have no weight and could easily dissipate into vapor and memory, I send them winging out. Not every time, not every day, but as much as I can, because that's what a great part of this journal is all about: me, holding up my end of a friendship with you. My comments, my posts, my words: did you hear that? O! I get it!

*Title from a quote by Confucius
 thoughtful
mood: thoughtful
music: Tom Waits—The Heart of Saturday Night


Comments

I get it!

This is exactly why I have protected our lunch next week like a mother tiger. There have been several attempts to snatch that time away from me, but "Lunch with Liz" has been a higher priority than any of those vulture-like grabs for my Tuesday afternoon.

Every morning when I check the bar of upcoming events/activities/appointments/meetings I have listed in my work Outlook, I SMILE when I see that lunch moving closer and closer to now. :)

From Megsie

Man, are you ever ringing my bell! Can you hear it? All the way from Minnesota? I kept checking to see if you wrote: "This blog-post is dedicated to Megsie, because she avoided writing for TWO WEEKS and that is just not acceptable." How is it that you crawl right into my head and are able to capture the thoughts right into words like that? You are AMAZING! I smooch you.

Re: From Megsie

I think everyone is picking up what I'm putting down...I had inspiration from nearly everyone: you, Marilyn, Sam, you name it...my blog friends are all on the same page lately :P

(Anonymous)

I don't blog, but I could comment more. I always did like being a lurker- quieter, safer, oh...but lonelier! OK! I'll make an effort to comment more, because I,too, want to stay in better touch. Must go write an email now! Love, Lizardmom

Definitely quieter and safer and lonelier. There are so many neat people out there to get to know! :)

(Anonymous)

"I get this. I can totally relate, in a way. But, if I don't call the friends who live near me and talk to them, invite them over, go out to lunch with them, acknowledge them in some way, our friendships will slide and erode until they are washed away in the general rush and tumble of regular life"

Yes, that's what happened to me and one of my best friends. I try to reach out, she says "We have to meet and talk" - I suggest times and things to do but she either doesn't reply or can't make it at my suggested dates and will "get back to me" but never does.

It hurts me. :( I know she has a busy life and a troubled relationship etc and that is probably part of the reason. But it still hurts. If she REALLY wanted to meet me, she would make time.

So letting your friends know you are there for them is SO important!

There is so much more I would like to comment, but must leave for work in two minutes!

/Mia

http://mias.blogg.se

It sure is! Taking friends for granted is simply a good way to lose them. I hope you'll comment more about this if you have more to say OR write a post for ME to comment on! :)

And this is exactly why I love your blogging (and your commenting and all the delightful nuances of a word-based friendship).

P.S. - Any chance you and the kids will be accompanying Anders on one of his upcoming trips to Italy?

YES! There is a very good chance, though it looks like it won't happen until fall, most likely. One of my colleagues has a house for rent in Rabello that we are considering...is that anywhere near you?

(Anonymous)

By the way, your Uncle Sam and Aunt Joanne will be in Italy in Sept. They would love to be able to meet up with you- as they are hoping they could meet John & Simone there too. Love, Lizardmom

Hmm... Google Maps couldn't find Rabello, but there is a Ravello down near Naples close to the Amalfi Coast. Could that be where you're headed? It's about a 5-hour drive from us, but we don't take much convincing to go on a little road trip -- especially not to such a gorgeous area!

Oops sorry, yes, you're right: Ravello :) Once we know more about dates and definites, I will definitely let you know. We're willing to road trip too, so maybe we can come your way instead!

Wait--you and Bethany might be in cahoots in Italy. Swoon. And SIGH. I want to be there!!!!

Hope hope hope! No definite plans, but we'll see what happens!

(Anonymous)

How much do I love this concept...that your words and our commments and the relationships that have emerged...all making a very particular harmony. What a lovely thought! I especially love that you consider your journal as holding up a friendship with all of us...I'm going to adopt that concept, myself. That's one reason why I just HATE it when people give up blogging...because I'm invested in YOUR LIFE and I will always, always think of you (Wee, Otter, especially).

I do try to comment, especially on those bloggers that I feel are true friends (though I am often quite over on Bluepoppy, I just soak her UP). I go through stages, but I always want them to know that I am there, hearing them, cheering them on. I admit that Facebook has made it so much easier to connect - especially with you international peeps. And I so agree with Marilyn - at this point, after all these years, it should be a given to know that I care, but *this* sort of intentional give & take is the one way we can express that, in our little blogging world.

xo
Sam

I hate it too, when people give up blogging, though I'm so thrilled when they come back (*waves at BP*)...I still have hopes for Wee at least. I feel like someone has DIED when their blog shuts down.

From Megsie

Eaves dropping to say: Me too. I hate it, and I feel the loss. But, I never read Wee. Or Otter. But, I am so glad BP is back. Hugs to both of you~

Lately, I have kept myself busy and mostly away from the phone, the stationary, and the internet. I dunno why...something I'm trying to escape I guess. I feel addicted to these dvds I've gotten from the library and have been obsessively choosing them. In a way, it is not a good thing and in a way it is keeping me busy, entertained, and sane. But I miss my friends.
Generally, when not spending every spare moment with Gray's Anatomy or The Vicar of Dibley, I would be reading that good book sitting next to the bed as well as longing for my friends, virtual and real life. I would be writing, calling, visiting.

On another note:
I get it!


And, I want you to know that even your lighter than air day comments mean something to me. There is this friendship network and it is called Live Journal. I like the daily interaction (despite what it may seem when I go into these dropping out phases... I'm going through them in other ways too, not just LJ)
Anyhow, Thank You Liz for holding up your end of the friendship with posts, sharing your life, comments, support, snark. Thanks for being on the page when I go looking for a friend, some words, a connection.

More to be said about this, but I'm off to pack the car and drive to Portland to see my sisters and my daughter. Oh, and IKEA.



I go through phases too when other things take precedence, but even in the midst of the mehs I miss it too much to ever consider giving it up now :)

And I am so, so, so grateful for your words--both here (where you endlessly astound me with the way you capture moments, parent your kiddos, and ACCOMPLISH a gazillion things everyday) and your comments on my blog. I think you were the first regular commenter on my blog--and your words made me want to keep writing...and eventually to start taking it seriously. (THANK YOU.)

ALL of you make me want to keep writing. You've all become so much more important to me than I could ever have thought possible. :) !!

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