Sunday, May 2, 2010

Are your friends for real?

This past weekend has been busy for me. Since the weather has let up, and with the celebration of my wife’s “Birth-fortnight” (when a birthday stretches out for two weeks) my social appearances beyond the local grocery have increased.

Friday, Saturday, and today all included time with friends. Last night in particular, I was blessed to be able to hang out for an evening with my old posse. We all sought and secured babysitters, met at our house, and then proceeded to a quaint area of our city called the Short North.

The Short North is known for its’ eclectic mix of galleries, bistros, and chic businesses that make evening strolling in the area a fun adventure. Since it was the beginning of the month, the area hosts the city to join them for what is called the “Gallery Hop.” Aside from the usual goings on, there are other artists, vendors, musicians, and other people sharing odds and ends and other what-not’s on random tables aligning the streets.

We spent the evening as if time had never passed and kids were not a daily part of our lives. We laughed, enjoyed food, beverage, and fellowship, and also ran into old friends we have not seen in years. Some people in our lives will always hold special chunks of real estate in our heart regardless of how often we see them. This is the sign of quality friends.

This morning my wife had asked me a couple times if I had a good time the night before. She was apparently taking the temperature of my mood last night. Loud and crowded is not always my “thing”, but in this instance, I was perfectly content. I was surrounded by some of the best friends I have and what was not to enjoy? She also asked me a couple times last night but I think “Vodka-nesia” had set in then.

She then mentioned she was asking as since they were all drinking, and I was not, was I still having fun. Although my vocal volume perhaps did not increase as the evening progressed, I still thoroughly enjoyed my time spent.

I do not drink anymore. I abstain from all intoxicants God willing, and now enjoy sobriety as much as I enjoy the air in my lungs. I guess I reached my quota early in my life, and for the greater good of all, I am nowadays the designated driver in many situations. I am completely okay with that.

What I did notice and appreciate is that I do not need to alter my reality to enjoy where I am any longer. I really and truly love my friends, all of them, just simply for being themselves, unique, and just great people. I also am not at all judgmental of how my friends have fun. I have my boundaries as that is all I can control, but being the sober guy, my chances of arriving home safely, with dignity intact are better now, and if I have to help a fallen comrade, I am in a better position to do so.

Today’s world is funny as many people I encounter through my week are not only in human form, but digital as well. Through social media and blogging, I am able to speak to, and connect with, scores of people with the click of a mouse. I can send my voice across the globe in milliseconds, and really have become quite fond of the new, yet digital friends I have come to communicate with on a regular basis.

I also notice there are many people who this becomes the only forum of communication with others in their lives. I often have to remind my young daughter that I refuse to “talk to her part” as she will be looking down at a text as I speak to the top of her head. I also notice some people collect “friends,” as boasting the accumulated numbers on their Facebook page takes precedence over a small quality handful of true human relationships in person. Do you know everyone on your friend list?

I often do find solace in the fact that I can write with an honesty in blogging that often may become difficult face-to-face. I do enjoy the solitude as I bask in the warm glow of my monitor and the soothing sounds of Pandora radio as I write. I don’t mind being alone at times. However, I must be careful to not totally invest myself in this mindset. I am only one electro-magnetic pulse away from social Armageddon.

What Facebook, blogging, tweeting, and texting will not do is allow you to enjoy the contagious sounds of laugher. The ability to run a joke into the ground to where it actually becomes a nickname or fodder for laughter in years to come is priceless. It is context, atmosphere, and the ability to drink in a human beings presence that makes us human ourselves.

The emotional ups, down, twists and turns that occur in a social setting among friends is what nurtures the soul. Groups of people are a “recipe” to where every person’s unique flavor, no matter how odd or pungent, still combines in harmony to create a wonderful dish.

It is when I find myself dreading going out or not wanting to meet up with others, I must snap to the reality that I could be drifting from one of the greatest gifts I can receive, and that is the presence and laughter of my greatest treasured friends. I have always believed wealth should be measured by the quality of one’s relationships and if that were true, I am most indeed a blessed wealthy man.

I must make sure that I stay connected and invested in those who were here in my life long before Facebook. I must recognize and acknowledge those who would take a bullet for me, and me for them. The ones who would bail me out of jail, sit by my side in failed health, attend my funeral, and protect my loved ones as if they were their own; only because they know I would do it for them as well are the friends to prioritize.

I must make sure that the plants I have in my backyard are more important tenfold over than any one that has ever appeared in Farmville–that the animals that eat real food, and drink real water are the most important to care for. If you have the time to tweet about your iced vanilla latte, don’t forget to smile at those you encounter in the streets.

Although I truly love the sentiments and love I get in the virtual world, I would rather get a smile, hug, or “status update” in person. For those who are not close enough or able for that to happen, I am still very thankful for your virtual presence and pray that no EMP or virus ever comes between us.

Namaste’ my friends both near and far!


YogaSavy said...

It is true modern technologies do not replace love,smiles or touch. True friends are rare and will nourish these friendships no matter how far apart we are. Thank you for this beautiful reminder. I did a post on this and called them my blue diamonds!

Anonymous said...

This is the good stuff, right here. We're walking a fine line between our virtual existence and a life well lived. You, however, are on the verge of finding that delicate balance that allows for the best of both worlds without making compromises for either one.

Timberwolf123 said...

There's nothing better in life then a good laugh with special friends!! We do get to caught up in "cyberspace" sometimes & forget that interaction with "people" is more then just typing on a computer. I love all the people in my life whether they are people I will ever met or not but I love to get together with people & share thoughts & hugs & most of all love.

Thanks Tony....hugs,


Katherine Jenkins said...

I hope a computer virus never comes between us either as I value your friendship, even though it is a "virtual" one. Maybe someday we can all meet at a Writers Rising conference!!!! You are so right..I've never participated in farmville or raised a veggie patch online, but I'm happy to announce that I just planted my very own vegetable garden in the backyard and took time out at a cabin this weekend with family. Spending face to face time with people we care about is SOOO important and that's different than Facebook time. ^_^ That being said, I'm happy that I got to "know" you via the Worldwide Web. Take care my friend!

arien said...

Hi Tony, I agree with you. People are too busy showing off their innumerable friends on their list on these social networking sites. But they don't stop to say hi to their real friends both online and offline. Life is short and we need to keep in touch with all the people whom we love and who love us. Personally I prefer talking on the phone to catch up than posting a scrap on facebook etc.
I do admit some of my close friends I made were through the net but once there I stopped going to chat rooms and such in search of new friends. I have my share and we all love eachother to death. What more can anyone ask for?
Now that I found your blog I will keep visiting...sure is interesting!
Namaste to you too...:) Have a great week!

Gypsy said...

Your writing is beautiful. I feel the same way about this digital era. I grew up running around the town with my friends and then retiring to my place with a deck of cards. Now here I am blogging. I've tried to get out of the social networking and carry on actual physical friendships, but sadly that just doesn't seem to be the way of the world anymore. I can't tell you the last time someone popped in to say hello. I can tell you the last time I did that to someone. How to keep the actual physical connections going? It's a challenge for sure.
But, I really like your writing, and will follow to read what's next.

Green Monkey said...

This monkey is completely aligned with Gypsy. Like your honesty. like your style... I'm the silly one in the back seat, waving her hands out the window like she's got a spare.

Pavitar said...

Hie Tony,

Just came upon your blog. Love it. Thanks for this post. Needed to read it today. :)


Mansi said...

Thanks for writing this, Tony. I love connecting with other bloggers and had 401 friends on Facebook until last week. I deleted my account, after being an active advocate and actually setting up a lot of folks' accounts myself -- I got tired of having friends that weren't really friends. And I wanted to be a friend, not just appear as a photo and number on someone's friends list. Our lives are so encompassed by online activities, that real life has started becoming more and more of a blur. I've drawn the line. I'll continue to interact with those not physically close by via e-mails and blogs, but plan to make a sincere effort to meet up with local friends instead of following summaries of their life events in a news feed. Appreciate your writing this.