It is so absolutely weird to be sitting out here at Estrella Vista in my little mud house, miles away from local friends and neighbors, and hundreds and even thousands of miles from family and close friends—connected to the outer world only by a phone/internet line—and yet feeling so close to the people in my life.
The Wandervogel Diary is becoming a social network in its own right. The traffic yesterday was terrific. This blogsite is becoming a touchstone for hundreds, if not thousands, of physically far-flung people who share coherent values. It is becoming a hub of new relationships and friendships.
I can never get used to the wonderful paradox of it—especially of being in love with people I’ve never actually met face-to-face (or even spoken to on the phone). All from out here “in the middle of nowhere.”
Yesterday Paul Henry’s mom sent me his latest school picture, and most of the day his eyes stared at me from the computer screen while I fielded e-mails and phone calls from old friends and wonderful strangers—now new friends—who are volunteering themselves, their networks of friends and contacts to help us protect Paul Henry’s innocence (and maybe even his life).
In the evening, another youth justice advocate sent me these black-and-white pictures of Paul Henry, which provide insight to this child’s personality. The person who sent them said “movie star.” My take was along the lines of “teen idol.”
This is a child who doesn’t even know I exist, and yet it’s strange to consider he’s already a part of my life as if I actually knew him. In time I suppose I eventually will get to know the boy, but right now I am learning about him through the eyes of his parents and attorneys. Later I will get to know him through others who know him. All these new connections in the human web are fascinating.
Because northern Indiana is where I was born and raised, I am tapping into networks of people with whom I have had little contact for forty-five years. I am reconnecting with people who were my parents’ friends, or are the children of my parents’ friends, and who remember my ancestors.
I’m surrounded here in this isolated mud house with pictures of my parents and grandparents as children, and because of this work in Indiana, I have an uncanny sense of connection with them not only over space but through time. People are responding to me so positively, not so much because of me, but because of the family which brought be into the world and raised me. Their being remembered is making things happen in the here-and-now. It is almost as if they are still alive—and they are, I suppose, through me. Dormant connections awakened.
It’s an interesting variation on the concept of “six degrees of separation,” which is the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away from any other person on Earth. In other words, friend-of-a-friend chains exist which link any two people on Earth in six steps or fewer. With technological advances in communications and travel, our human networks grow larger and span greater distances. Yet, as is so starkly apparent from here where I’m so ultra-aware of the great physical distances between individuals all over the world, the growing density of human networks is making the social distance between us far smaller.
Last week I connected with a couple guys I hadn’t seen since we were children. It was such an odd experience, as sixty-something men, to have had long conversations reminiscing about the valued currency of our childhoods (like toy cars). Having long ago ‘set aside childish things,’ it was like sharing comfort food to have been picking them up again. Webs of memories and old enthusiasms.
It’s gratifying to be putting all these connections to work for Paul Henry’s benefit… in acknowledgment of the values our parents shared when they were alive… a living act of honoring our roots by investing in a boy who needs our help and who will live on, hopefully perpetuating our values, and extending the web of human connections over space and time.
A small part of the universal connectedness…
Groove of the Day