This has been an eventful weekend. Not in a physical sense, nor has it been a particularly mobile weekend; I stayed in town and, for that matter – mostly at home. However, it has been, in some respects, exhausting – no, busy - nonetheless. Furthermore, even though I spent much of this weekend at home, I have interacted with a greater variety of friends, family and acquaintances via a variety of means consistently over a period of time. In short, I have felt more “plugged in” than I do during a normal, busy weekday.
Ok, I think that the question then has been successfully set up – why? What gave this weekend the flavor of a hectic work (or school) week? In a word – interaction. And not just idle conversation either (although some of it was just chit-chat), but meaningful, substantive, intelligent and pertinent discussion. It happened with friends, it happened by email, it happened with family members and it happened on blogs. It occurred between good friends that I see regularly and new friends that I have never met face-to-face. It covered a variety of topics and some may even have lasting effect.
The revelation is that none of these differences, be it means, topic or relationship, had any bearing on the “ranking” of the discussion’s importance. In other words, each conversation held the same or similar status with me – even the chit-chat. It was an intellectually busy weekend and I feel as exhausted as I do relaxed. An interesting dichotomy in that I believed those two feelings to be mutually exclusive.
There was more than just talk, of course. Other forms of non-verbal communication by way of these various vehicles were also apparent. Yes, even through the faceless, silent and often anonymous electronic medium known as cyberspace. “Feelings” can be expressed through text. Through word selection and placement, different understandings and even misunderstandings can manifest themselves. This is not new to me, but does garner my attention occasionally, especially when linked to other events that seem totally unrelated – but the connection suddenly becomes clear.
Then there is emotional non-verbal communication as well. It is identification, in real time, with feelings of excitement, sadness, disappointment, empathy and the like. And not a word has to be spoken. Often it could be tied to a physical experience with the very real smells, sounds and sights of an event such as a radio station’s motorcycle give-away promotion. This is not just a hypothetical example of what could be, but rather the story of what was.
Although my excursions outside my home were short, nearby and limited, one will stand out for a very long time. Like so many experiences, the greater significance of this one did not hit me until I had a moment to reflect – which happened just minutes ago! After my original plans for Saturday morning fell through, my friend called and asked if I’d like to ride down to Sacramento Harley-Davidson with him. It was a short ride (15 – 20 minutes), but it was also a beautiful, tank top riding Saturday morning. Since I no longer had any obligations, I accepted.
I met him at his house and then we rode over to another friend’s to pick him and his son up before all riding over to Sac Harley. The friend who called me had qualified to win a brand new, $30,000 Harley. He was one of just 24 qualifiers, so his chances of winning were pretty good, but still long. There was the radio station’s promo tent and mobile unit, a free barbeque and soft drinks and, of course, a sale. Just after noon, the drawing began. It was a reverse-style, elimination drawing, so the last thing we wanted to hear was our friend’s name. Besides those of us who rode down with him, there were a number of other friends and acquaintances there to participate in the festivities and lend moral support.
Although we all jokingly referred to the bike as his in the days before, it stopped being funny when the drawing started and names began to get eliminated – each loser winning a $100.00 gift certificate. After five, he was still standing; ten, still there. Then 15 names were gone, then 20, then after 22 names had been eliminated, he and one other qualifier were left. As one can imagine, the suspense was at a fever pitch. And we were all there with him, feeling his excitement and suspense – ready to celebrate his good fortune… or console him in defeat.
His name was drawn next. His consolation prize for second place was the same as 24th, a $100.00 gift certificate. It was almost as thrilling as if my own name had been in that drawing. He and the other qualifiers were not with the rest of the crowd – they were near the radio van and the bike – a beautiful 2006 Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle, 103 inch, limited edition Fat Boy. We were not close enough to converse, but we knew. We could feel his heart beating – we felt his ever-growing disbelief as name after name was not his. And when his name was finally called on the 23rd pull, our collective hearts sank.
So close but yet so far, we all felt it with him. Not so unusual perhaps, but the secondary, the “post-traumatic stress” response was equally unified. It was an expression of gratitude. For a hundred bucks? Second to $30K? No, thankful that we were able to take the ride with him, the building crescendo and the fall from the top. The excitement and exhilaration… the disbelief followed by the disbelief. All felt in a single moment; all the same and all together. Isn’t that what it’s really all about?