I am a fan of epistolary novels and have a weakness for reading collections of correspondence, pulling bits of awareness from them of others' lives. Blog collections, too--at least the funny ones--find themselves on my shelves. I could imagine e-mail collections, although I've never seen one.
Then, recently, I tried to write a letter. A card, really, the equivalent of two postcards, long sides together. I wrote a few sentences and started making big loopy letters, making the text larger, hurrying toward the close, my signature, and doodles of the two dogs to take up space. Organizing a letter, writing a few paragraphs about the day, the dogs, the weather and it's ramifications seemed unnatural; I could no longer easily think in the rhythms of letters, only in the brevity of simple, visible posts on my own semi-private wall on the Internet.
There is in these posts the awareness of the baleful twins of Judgment and Disregard, a sometimes desperate feeling of being briefly onstage and trying to capture an audience rather than speak to a friend. The art of correspondence has been dulled by the constant showmanship of a child or the political hectoring of placard-waving marcher.
Does it matter? I am no less living my life, whether I am posting pictures of the arboretum and sharing sarcastic posts or sending paragraphs on the birds at the bird feeder or the frustrations of early drafts individually. In one, however, I feel as if I'm lifting the front curtain for a flashbulb and in the other as if I'm sharing a conversation. Conversations can be cheap, shallow, and scripted. I'm not arguing for the perfection of one form over another, just that I feel as if brevity doesn't do me many favors. I meander. I build worlds out of that time. Out of the things I find on the slow perusal of other lives.
But hey, it's the twenty-first century. Light the lights.