Thanksgiving brings thoughts of gathering in the cornstalks from the fields, pumpkins from the pumpkin patch and creating beautiful cornucopias with the harvest. The holiday season becomes our traditional time to be grateful for the abundance in our lives, as well as a time to gather in our families and friends in all aspects of our lives.
A recent video posting on my Facebook wall reminded me of a blog I once wrote about engaging in our personal networks. Watching it, I laughed when I realized how far I’ve come in that virtual community, since gingerly dipping my toes in the waters a couple of years ago.
I knew I’d find Facebook important for networking, so despite any trepidation, I swam out further from shore. Now, of course, I’m more into can’t-live-without-it then with-it, at least most of the time. Apparently, I’m not alone, with all the hoopla about social networking and our global networks widening day by day.
The video, which prompted me to write this blog, was being noticed by millions (gone viral I guess is the lingo for that phenomenon.) A Life on Facebook reminds me how far I’ve come in my outlook on virtual networks. I laughed, as well, because it reminds me how I was preaching to the choir in those early Facebook days.
It was about this time of year that I wrote that blog, including my little sermon likening our Facebook friends to pumpkins in a pumpkin patch. Back then, the only friends I had were friends of my kids who’d found me. None of my peer group was there. My kids are still NOT on Facebook by choice; it’s their mom who’s creating the networking havoc in the family.
A few of my friends (their parents) are on now, but amazingly few. My virtual circle of friends, turns out, are mostly NEW friends. I’ve many new friends via Facebook; and the way it works, I’m connecting with more and more new friends — which is great if you are an artist, writer, actor, musician. Despite its annoyances, it’s a great way to network, no matter your career, but especially helpful to the entrepreneurial among us. I’ve marveled at the quantum leap businesses have taken, jumping on the Facebook bandwagon to market their wares.
Even though I’d like to think I’m a mature Facebook user now, I think the sermon can still stand, with a little augmentation; and it doesn’t hurt to remind myself of my intentions.
Here’s my sermon, circa Autumn 2008:
Of Family, Friends and Facebook: How’s Your Pumpkin Patch?
Autumn gets me to thinking about circles. Not just running in circles, although that comes to mind, with the holidays and rush of things we think we must do, and be about, in the year’s final phase. Mostly I begin focusing on all the circles in my life…the circles that make up my life: Circles of family, circles of friends. Usually it happens as the leaves turn golden…seemingly overnight.
It happened again the other day. While you’d suppose I’d be intent on our refrigerator, because it was malfunctioning on this beautiful, balmy, moon-almost-full evening, instead I was reminiscing about people. Of course I’d spent the day preparing the refrigerator for the repairman, due the following morning. Could be cleaning it and dealing with all the foods and condiments fueled thoughts of good times with family and friends; and I was wondering if I’d make it through the upcoming holiday season.
Perhaps it was the fact that, the night before, two high school friends had found me on Facebook. Or that a brand new friend in a brand new circle of friends sent me one of those email forwards about taking care of your pumpkin patch. I like that analogy. The picture was a farm stand’s glowing pumpkin face display at dusk. There were brightly lit grinning, scowling, happy, fierce pumpkin faces everywhere, lined up on straw bales and even on the rooftop.
The message expressed the idea that we’re like pumpkins…and that…with a little heavenly help, we can scoop out all the doubt and negativity inside us, and let our light shine through our unique smiling face. From one pumpkin to another, pass it on. Send it to all the pumpkins in your patch. I like that. But I think I have more than one patch. Circles of pumpkins in one giant patch that keeps expanding.
How are pumpkins like Facebook? Well, I see a pattern here. People yearn for connection. They feel better when their pumpkin patch is full of beautiful pumpkins. Glowing pumpkin faces. Each one carved as expressing the unique circumstances of its life.
Gathering pumpkins in our patch. Gathering faces on Facebook. Is it the more faces we have on our network, the more popular we are? As in celebrities and their far-flung fan clubs? It’s easy to gather up faces. Sure, everyone wants to be friends…or so they say.
We all say that…but can we deliver? Can we truly maintain quality friendships that number in the realms of those celebrities? Of course, maybe they have an agency, or someone behind the scenes…to act as a buffer between all those fans.
Hmmmm. A Facebook secretary. To handle all our contacts if they get out of hand. If we get into the state of overwhelm on our Facebook or MySpace or all our blogspaces. That’s the risk we take when we sign onto virtual networks. In the accelerated pace of life today, it’s often easier to just check in and see how your virtual friends are doing…toss a comment into the mix here and there. And let it go at that.
I’ve always struggled with the thoughts of keeping up with everyone who’s touched my life in some way. Deep within, I feel I owe all of them some semblance of gratitude. Yet it seems an impossible task, doesn’t it?
In some cases, virtual networks offer a creative way to do that. Staying in touch via social networks and email has been a boon to keeping many relationships alive and well. Yet, the risk comes in continually adding more faces, I think, without tending to the “faces” we already have….the people who’ve meant so much in our lives.
Our life circumstances continually shift…often so slowly that we aren’t aware of it. Until one day we wake up and it hits us – not just like a ton of bricks, but more like a Tsunami. Many of the souls we’ve loved, we’ve lost!
We’ve lost them, because we weren’t paying attention. We weren’t tending to these circles in our lives. Circles of family, circles of friends. These circles…we often realize too late…comprise our individual circle of life. They are our life. Our pumpkin patch.
Statistics show that the more circles you have, the healthier you will be throughout life. So it makes sense to nurture them. It makes sense to keep up with your circles…and in this Internet age, even the virtual ones.
Yes, I was thinking about this the other evening, as I enjoyed a quiet moment on the backyard swing…relaxing with a cup of coffee, observing the mesmerizing effect of daylight dimming earlier, as dusk came with the setting autumn sun. The leaves of sassafras and hickory, that had turned so golden within hours that very day, kept on glowing, as if sending the light to me…infusing me with that energy.
How do leaves glow after dark? How’s the light in my pumpkin patch? I can hold these images in mind during the long dark nights of winter ahead. I can think of the light energy symbolized. I can make an extra effort this holiday season to reach out and connect…or re-connect….with my circles of family, circles of friends. My circle of life. And keep it energized, glowing…and growing.
Back to the future: Autumn 2010 Life on Facebook
OK, enough of that old sermon. How fitting, though, that I happened upon this apt quote (from Facebook, no doubt) the other day:
“You can preach a better sermon with your life that with your lips.” – Playwright and Poet, Oliver Goldsmith
I enjoyed A Life Told on Facebook, probably because it’s a slice of many of our lives in 2010. And now, two years after my soapbox tirade, I can relate — as Maxime Luere shares his scenario: “a story of a man told through the Facebook interface.”
And, guess what? It’s just that interface where my high school class is working toward gathering the circle for our 50th Class Reunion in July 2011. Certainly in 1961, when Alan Shepherd rocketed into space, we couldn’t have imagined that half a century later, we’d be exploring a global virtual network, and using it as if it had always been around.
If Facebook can work its magic to bring far-flung classmates closer together in our older years, then I say, Kudos. And Cheers! There is even more evidence now, to quote Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., that “close relationships – with family, friends, or even pets – seem to pay off with good health and longevity.”
Weil noted in an e-newsletter: “Study after study has shown that social support is crucial and can even influence survival among patients with very serious diseases. It makes sense that you cannot enjoy full health as an isolated being.”
With strong ties to family and friends, we can stave off such health risk factors as depression, loneliness, despair and other negative emotions. So, yes, Cheers! – to Facebook: Here’s to a cornucopia of healthy relationships.
And, as Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek Enterprise commands, when venturing off at warp speed to galaxies unknown… Engage!
A Life Told on Facebook at Mashable/Video
Thanksgiving E-News from Caroline Myss : “A Thanksgiving List”
As I was about to post this blog, the Thanksgiving e-newsletter came into my inbox from author Caroline Myss. Scroll down to the paragraph that begins, “I don’t know about you, but for me friendship is a serious business.” Myss expresses the importance of spending time engaging, as best we can throughout life, with our “tribes.” At the end, she shares a thoughtful Thanksgiving List: suggestions to help create an abundantly full cornucopia of family and friends.
You Tube Fun:
Life going at warp speed? Take it from Jean-Luc: “Engage!” –Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek