Saturday, May 19, 2012

Degrees of Separation

It didn't happen when, as a kid, I was driven from Nebraska to Massachusetts to Virginia and then from Virginia to Massachusetts every summer until finally on a cross-country trip to take a ship from San Francisco to Hawaii.

The world, my world, was still small, stuffed into a pseudo-wood panel station wagon with four other kids and two parents. And it stayed small. Even though I went to four elementary schools. Even though I lived in nine different homes before I finished high school. Even though I lived surrounded by all of those transitory people. Even though.

It was on the Amtrak rides back "home" to Virginia from college in Jersey that the world exploded. I would look out the train window and pass house after house after house along the tracks. All of them served as home for people I would never know, people who had a sense of being as strong as my own sense of being.

Still, those numbers seemed somewhat tangible. By comparison of my spiraling thoughts today, those numbers seem downright attainable. I could meet all of them. I could.

I said to Pete the other night that Springsteen's 57 Channels seems downright quaint nowadays. We are in information overload. Soon enough, DIRECTV will have to go with four-digit channels rather than three. But it was only just the other day -- as God is my witness -- that I was getting up to turn the channel to one of only four VHF. [WTF is a VHF for FS?]

Forget ever knowing a fraction of the past. I can't even begin to know a fraction of the present. Too many sources of information. I'll never reach this. I'll never read the best books or hear the best songs or meet the most fascinating people. I won't even be able to plod through the worst of it. And I can kiss goodbye any chance of remaining on top of breaking news. [Twitter notwithstanding.]

There is no meaning to this post. If you'd like to find meaning in a blog post, might I suggest you check out one of the other 450 million English-language blogs out there?


Jocelyn said...

I'd argue there's a great deal of meaning to this post, and that you managed to convey it in only a few paragraphs is admirable and contributes to the force of your message. So many voices--and so many of them saying nothing--that it's hard to know when, where, how to tune in. It's like we have to canvas the whole landscape of all this media, yet try to figure out how to hone in on the four things that actually matter.

I, for one, am glad I saw your tweet about this post. So there. That's a thing.

S said...

I did the same thing in college, when on the Amtrak train from Providence, RI to NYC, and back again. I wondered about all those people in all those houses. So many people I'd never know. So much to think about. I miss just looking out the window like that, letting my thoughts drift and swirl and coalesce.

Josie Two Shoes said...

I think there is a great deal of meaning in this post, Patty. It's called Information Overload, and I feel it's burden all the time. Going into a store I feel the same way...Option Overload. Remember a time when we actually read operations manuals for what we bought, and had the time to learn all the functions, because there were only two or three? The list of "I will never have time to do's
is so great anymore that I feel overwhelmed. If there was 50 hours in a day I couldn't cover it all, or begin to remember any of it. Hell, I can barely remember my own cell number, and in years past I knew the number for at least 20 folks! I long for simpler, easier times, yet I wouldn't give up my fabulous connections with blog friends from around the world who I will likely never meet in this lifetime... maybe in the next?? I hope so!!

Tara R. said...

I can remember having 3 VHF channels and PBS on UHF, on a black and white set. Our HD TV now has 4-digit channels. It's definitely info overload.

But, we do have English Premier Soccer and we are a happy family.


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