I spend a lot of time at home.
I am one of those people who feels pulled home nearly all the time. When I am out and there is a lull in activities, my instinct is to head home.

One big reason is because of the web.
The internet and it’s source of infinite pseudo connections.
I am well aware that a textual “(hug)” is not the same as a physical one, but it does contain trace elements of connection.
Every status update from a friend.
Every comment or reply.
Every email.
Each of these digital connections has a tiny bit of emotional charge.

I can be physically alone for long stretched and never really feel “alone” because of those digital connections. But it takes a lot of them.

Meeting a friend for coffee is like gulping a refreshing glass of Love water.
Whereas drifting through Facebook, and the online worlds of friends is like tiny drops. Not nearly as satisfying – but enough to stay hydrated.
The downside is that it takes LOTS of drops to equal a glass.
And I find myself constantly foraging for droplets.

I am trying to transition my thinking so that I leave the house more.
I want to try to drink more full glasses and spend less effort foraging.

Part of this process for me is shifting my mindset, in parallel with shifting my actions.

And one way I am doing this is by forcing myself to analyze the difference between physical and digital intimacy.

This is especially hard since I have spent many years as a champion of digital intimacy. (www.digitalintimacy.com)

But after 15+ years of posting my life online, I am aware that my patterns are out of balance. Time to shift more of my energy and attention towards the physical world.

That doesn’t mean trees and rivers, although it could.
I just mean that I want to go to the store more, and to amazon.com less. I want to walk the streets, interact with people, and most importantly, interact with people I love.

The reality is that all interactions are with people I love – on some level. And I’d like to get to a point where I am fully hydrated with human connection. Spreading and feeling the divine love that flows between us all.

(Hopefully the interactions won’t diminish my optimism in people. I realize that Idealized people are much easier to get along with than actual ones.)

One perspective that is helping me re-focus towards the physical world is a modification of an idea I read in “Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”

It has been 20 years, but I remember a passage that made the distinction between a painting and a print.
One is art, it maintained.
The other is a picture OF art.

One has the energy, magic and intention of the artist trapped in the physical object. It contains history. It is bottled up time and effort. Each brushstoke groove has a story.

But a print is just a picture of that story. You can still get the gist of it, but you cannot feel it in the same way. The artist’s energy is muffled via reproduction.

I was powerfully affected by that idea. In fact, I have had only original art in my home ever since.

Last week I realized that the same distinction could be made between physical interactions and digital ones.

Interacting with the world via a terminal is like interacting with a picture OF the world.

Yes, the @replies, comments and ((hugs)) are connections…but they are are like photocopies of connections. They are abstract symbols that amount to little more than droplets.

To be clear, I am still a HUGE proponent of digital intimacy. My life has been transformed by the love I feel via the web. But I have gradually shifted to a life that depends on a constant stream of tiny droplets.

Huge amounts of my time is spent grazing the digital fields to ease my thirst.

I am working to understand better where the glasses of water are in my life.

Things like:
Playtime with my nephews.
Lunches with friends.
And random smiles in the streets.

I still love the web. I just want to shift back into patterns where a terminal is a tool to enhance my walking in the world – not replace it.

Tiny drops. Baby steps.

Love,
-john

Comments
  • Brody

    I hear you! My favourite week of the year is at Burning Man, where I can’t go 10 feet without a genuine smile, a moment of potential connection, a hug if I asked for one or offered one. The rest of the year, as much as I keep up with my Burner friends around the globe online, I still love going to the parties and events and physically seeing friends….even if it’s just for a quiet night together hanging out, a walk by the beach.

    I see digital intimacy like guy wires for a tent on the playa, and physical connections as tent poles. The tent & poles can probably survive without the guy wires, but the tent and the guy wires are useless without the poles themselves.

    <3

    Thank you for sharing yourself online and in person!

    Brody

  • Halcyon

    “I see digital intimacy like guy wires for a tent on the playa, and physical connections as tent poles. The tent & poles can probably survive without the guy wires, but the tent and the guy wires are useless without the poles themselves.” Genius!! I love it! (And I love YOU.)

  • evonne

    I feel you on this and struggle with the same attraction to home and managing the network from the safe cocoon vs. out in the energetic river of possibility where all takers and givers come at once. For those who love with great openness and intention it is often not easy to be in the presence of hundreds of good people at the same time. We desire deep connection yet the settings are often not conducive; the messy work of intimate bonding includes finding balance in the tough places where real and virtual meet.

  • Kelly Fay

    In support of your quest for full galsses, I will let you know that us droplets love to hear about and see images of those times when you are gulping down glass after glass. Bottom line. The more full your physical life, the more interesting your digital life. Drink up friend and let it dribble down your chin.
    Big love!

  • Halcyon

    Wonderfully said, Kelly!

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