There’s something I want to get off my chest. This digital world we live in, where we pretend to know people and replace chats over tea with chats over tea while on Skype, is messed up!
I’ve been missing cups of tea with friends lately. My friend Erica recently moved away and I’ve found myself longing for long chats that go off on endless tangents in her cold, cramped kitchen.
Instead, I skype, email and chat on Facebook… but it’s just not enough.
This may seem like a weird thing to be dwelling on at the moment, but the events of the past few days have left me feeling shamed and broken about hiding out in the online world.
I met Lauren while camping in South East Queensland and we connected instantly. I was a blogger. She was a blogger. We both loved photography, and had similar views on lots of issues.
We left that camp ground promising to catch up soon and we had plans to do so but their family’s travels took them to New Zealand shortly afterwards and it just never happened. That was 18 months ago.
We’ve since connected online amongst a small, close-knit group of mammas who share similar passions and interests, but while the promises to visit and connect have flowed from our chat posts, they’re still yet to happen. In fact, the latest discussion on that front happened just a few days ago.
I went into the Supermarket on Monday and saw Elijah’s picture on the front cover of The Courier Mail. I went back to my car weeping uncontrollably, not only at the sadness of it all but angry at the media for being so callous and cruel (not to mention wildly inaccurate). All of a sudden, it was real. It wasn’t just some unbelievable story we read online about someone in a far off land. It was here and causing unspeakable agony for someone I loved.
And then came the guilt…
Why hadn’t we gotten together earlier? Why did I allow my busy-ness to get in the way of an in-real-life friendship? Why indeed?
We never think that the next time we talk to someone might be the last time. It never occurs to us that anything will change, until it does.
As I sit here trying to process the events of the past few days, I wonder if I’m able to change my ways. What is so hard about connecting? Why am I so reluctant? Is it that I’m afraid to see others’ flaws or afraid to see my own?
“Life is in front of you!”
Today I had to take my boys out shopping for some new winter clothing and, as I walked around the mall I realized that I was looking at people differently. I wondered what sadness and hardship lay behind the eyes of the leathery skinned man standing outside of the Testra shop. I wondered who was going to get a beautiful surprise when I saw another man sitting, holding a bouquet of lilies. I wondered at the worried expression on one mother’s face as she walked behind her partner. I wanted to know their stories. I wanted to reach out and hug someone real and say comforting things.
At the heart of it, we all yearn for connection and social media seems like it helps but we only ever get what’s on the surface of others’ lives. If we want to truly know each other, I think we need to spend time with each other, drinking tea, laughing, crying and sharing our heart-felt desires and challenges.
Lauren said in a recent twitter post “life is in front of you.” She’s an amazing, inspiring woman who is handling this whole ordeal with such grace and dignity. I am looking forward to the many cups of tea and long talks ahead of us.
Ps: If you feel moved to show your support for Lauren and her girls, please visit our Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/sparklingelijahrainbow or donate here: http://www.mycause.com.au/Sparkling_Elijah_Rainbow.