Sunday, August 23, 2009

unknown endings . . .

I haven't been keeping to a normal routine of late. Have had bronchitis for the last 6 weeks and while the dry cough is annoying, it is the fatigue and weakness that have kept me close to home. This has, however, given me a lot of time to think. One of the things I have been thinking about is people who have come and gone out of my life . . . I am struck by how many life stories there are to which I will never get to "read" the final chapters. It seems obvious when I commit it to the page. Of course this is the case. How could it be otherwise. But this thought has been re-visiting and confounding me of late.

It kind of boggles my little mind to think I will not know how my children's lives unfold in their later years. I will most likely not know the "end of their story". Perhaps this is a normal thought for someone in the autumn of their years . . . I guess you can see I am trying to figure out the need buried in the quandry. Why do I need to know the end? Why am I preoccupied right now with not knowing how things turn out for people I care about?

As a therapist, my work is about hearing the intricacies of peoples' life stories. Yet, they do their work and move on . . . and most of them I never hear from again. I do know the end of certain chapters in their lives - but I will not get to know the completion of their life story. I would have thought that the experience of being a therapist would make me more comfortable with not knowing.

Even here in this intriguing world of blogs where intimacies are revealed through smoke, mirrors, masks and veils, there are stories with which I am engaged, but will never really know the final outcome. What happens when someone whose talent I admire, whose insights I seek out just stops blogging? I have the image of so many stories left open and unfinished.

So, is this about my need to know - my need to have everything neatly tied up with a pretty string - my core curiousity about people and unfoldings? I'm not sure. I am just aware that it feels like a possible loss . . . like something I am preparing to grieve. Perhaps I am becoming aware of a certain risk of engagement here with some of you . . . the risk that I can look forward to your next post and our little interactions and you can just disappear.

Of course, that is fundamentally the risk of all relationship. We risk reaching out, opening up, letting in . . . knowing all the while that nothing is secure, there are no guarantees. Yet risk we must - because to be human is to relate and to connect - even though there are many connections where we will never know the end of the story. I must better integrate what I know to be true of life: we will lose or leave everyone we love, and we must love anyway.


  1. Isn't it strange that the only closure that we'll ever experience is our own!
    This is very thought-provoking. I am going to be thinking of this one all day...


  2. EFH: I guess you have captured it for me with the word "strange". That's exactly the feeling I've been having.

    My father totally disappeared out of my life when I was a teenager. I never heard from him again. It always struck me as so strange that I would not know when or how his life ended - let alone what happened between his leaving and dying. How can one not know the story of one's own parent?

    I can hear many adopted children yelling at me through the ether. Yes, that has been your lot in life - for both of your biological parents. For some reason, I am just trying to come to grasp with it in mine.

  3. Bonnie - hi there...

    This is a very interesting line of thought.
    To tell you the truth I have never wondered how my kids lives will pan out...isn't that odd...

    The superficiality of the blogging relationship has always intrigued people can be full of warmth and interested in each other but tomorrow for all they know, you may fall off the edge of the world, or they may... and no-one would be the wiser.

    I think there is a lot less risk in the blogging friendship and because of that it can be fickle and shallow...We are meeting 'disembodied' people...and how can we get to really know someone without a body, without body language, expression, eyes...mannerisms...all the unsaid messages...

    Because we really do not know others I feel that there is no sense of obligation or loyalty that you feel with a don't ever have to explain yourself or hold yourself up to honest scrutiny as you do to a close friend...all those elements that are intrinsic to real friendship that bind and glue two people together...the shared intimacies, hopes and fears...they are all missing.

    We are more one dimensional blogging caricatures of ourselves, possibly censored in some ways, painted pretty in others...
    Am I a complete sceptic here...or do you wonder along these lines too?

    Some bloggers I feel an immediate rapport with and have shared interests, other times I make an approach and feel rebuffed...still other times I make repeated comments and am ignored... Some I communicate with for months and then they disappear...
    This blogging world is a very strange microcosm of the community...but it is a fascinating experiment in social change...

    I would like to hear more of your views...
    I would like to know how you achieved 100 followers in such a short space of time...that intrigues must have read a lot of posts...I found I had months of dead ends...

    Great thoughts Bonnie

    Happy days

  4. Thank you for being so honest Delwyn. I don't think you are being a sceptic - I think you are articulating the intrinsic limits of these digital connections: "disembodied, fickle, superficial, little sense of obligation . . ."

    As a very private person, I experienced some inner conflict about what I wanted from this experience and what I was willing to give. I wanted truth, responsibility, depth, risk . . . and then I realized that I was loathe to give it.

    Finally I decided that if I was to ever to get what I wanted, I had to risk being vulnerable and share more of myself than is my natural inclination in such an open, anonymous cadre. I see the possibility of some meaninful, learning-full connections, but to make them I would have to go against my own grain in this anonymous forum and disclose more.

    I did not start a blog to form relationships. I started one as a promotional tool for my artwork. Very self-serving, I know. I first became caught up in all the beautiful photography exposed in the blogs. Some friendly connections were made - but for the most part it started to feel repetitive and superficial. How could it not, really?

    So I have decided to share more of myself. How could I expect to get what I was not willing to give? As a therapist, which I know you are too, I am used to generally being a blank slate and not injecting myself into the equation. But, if I am to continue in this medium, it will have to get more real.

    I did rationalize that this would be an interesting document to leave for my children and grandchildren . . . but who am I kidding? Unless it is real - what is there of value? It would take a very short while for my progeny to tire of looking at my collages.

    So without getting too heavy - I want to use this blog to speak about what matters to me - including my fears and my vulnerabilities. I may lose readers, but I will be doing more of what is meaningful to me . . . and my ultimate hope here is that it could prove meaningful to others.

    I don't know that much about blogging and so came with no strategies and no knowledge of how fast or slow followers generally accumulate.

    I am glad our paths crossed in this "disembodied", digital world, as you call it, and do feel our exchanges have been authentic and interesting.

    Thank you so much for your candor which furthers the discussion.

  5. I think I felt that way too Bonnie..came to this without much concept of what it was about and just let fly. I tend to be quite up front with "me" and have never seen the sense in offering up someone I was not. I was this way in counseling also. What is the point of going if you are not real. I am cautious about what I I have my own boundries. But when I write here it is the real deal.
    I too have of late felt the pain of not getting everyday life and here on the blogs. kinda snaps your head around when someone just does an unexpected last post and is gone. Especially when it is someone I have grown close to. I have to keep that fear at bay or I cannot be my honest self when I write and respond to others here. Nothing is perminent..everyting is ever changing. I think we all want to remain the can't. I too yearn for knowing the endings..some things we just can't I guess.
    This was a wonderful, amazing post Bonnie!! Thank you for voicing so beautifully what I have been feeling myself!! Namaste and hugs, Sarah

  6. Sarah: I thank you back! I think you articulated it in ways I was trying to get at, but just did not find the words. I think a lot of this is about authenticity, isn't it? I always know when I go to your blog, I find something real.

  7. Thanks for a wonderful and thought provoking post. Like you Bonnie I started Blogging to hopefully promote my work and have been blogging since January this year. It has certainly opened my eyes to another world and I have met...metaphorically speaking some very nice people not too mention wonderful writers. I have noticed recently that some who were chatty have been quiet but as we are in summer months (or so they tell us here lol) I assume they will resume their blogs as the nights draw in and they are less busy. But it is so easy to think of people you chat to on here as friends when in fact they could be a fabrication and when someone suddenly disappears you wonder if it's something you said...I know weird lol. In the space of about 6 months I've gone from hardly knowing what a Blog was to having three....two art and one for my photos all because I assumed that I was boring people to death with my photos...crazy I know lol. Mind you I'm quite sure that apart from yourself and four others no one looks at my photo It is easy to get carried away, I look at these wonderful daily painters and have found myself pushing myself too complete something in a just isn't me, thats not how I work. My friend and mentor was doing a demonstration one night at a local art club and someone asked her how long it took her to paint something....her answer "So far it's been 65 years". I'll try not too disappear anytime in the near future but you just don't know what's round the corner....might even start sneaking my photos back into my main blog.

  8. Therapist to therapist - woman to woman- blogger to blogger - we are ever the question, ever the process, ever the change, ever the participant in the dark begetting the light, the silence begetting the word, the thought begetting the query, the confront begetting the resolve. The acceptance of "knowing" that what we touch, what we may facilitate, must be granted its own destiny, its own BEingness.

    In loving friendship,
    Rose Marie
    APOGEE Poet

    As a mother of three grown sons and a grandmother to a granddaughter and grandson, this allowing is its own joy. As a therapist with 26 years of private practice, I too, have many stories that are ongoing. Yet I know I am a thread in their woven fabric of life and time. It is not loss that I perceive, it is the ever present change. Let us, be aware that in our season of life, be it deemed "autumn" there is ever an awaiting spring! Life eternal knows no loss, only change. This is the liberation that has set me free.

    Dearest Bonnie, you have shared many readings of note. A book that I use in my practice and encourage my students to possess is, "Feeling Buried Alive Never Die..." by Karol K. Truman. She speaks of the association between our physical symptoms and our underlying consciousness, You may find it of interest to note that among her references to "Bronchitis" she states, "Wanting to be able to change things, but can't" "Wanting to be in charge, but can't."

    The root of "therapist" is "theo" meaning relating to God or deities from the Greek, "theos" meaning 'god.' And so as a therapist we are the spokesperson for BEINGNESS and change eternal - ours the ever present quest.

    Blessings and well being dear Bonnie. Breathe deep, breathe clear, each breath a celebration of potential, the ebb and flow of time and life. Just as breath can not be withheld if life is to be known, so too change and allowing are not to be withheld, if JOY is to be known.

  9. A very thought provoking post. I do hope you get well, regain health and vigor.

  10. Wow! This post, and its corresponding comments, leaves me breathless. It embodies everything I have been trying to express in my blog. People are coming together in a very strange way in the blogging world. Yes, we disappear. Life is uncertain. But the only voice that is meaningful in this bloggy world is the authentic voice. It requires that you are real. For some reason, maybe because we don't have all the other cues, we only respond to the authentic blogging voice. It's truly amazing. As a student of human development, I see this as very important. Not sure why, or where it is going, but important. Thank you for such a thought-provoking post.

  11. This is all very thought provoking. I have had an unusual insight into blogging and relationships. Several years ago my husband and I collaborated on the first online blog for the Denver Post called "The Colorado Journal." We did it for eight years. We had many many followers. We met some in person. A couple very dear fans that became friends passed on and their families let us know because they knew our connection, even though online, was real. Although it was our decision, it was painful severing all those connections. There are still some that email and we are able to stay in touch, online. My conclusion is that you have to flow and allow, take risks. Just as in real life, some relationships are real and some aren't.

    Thank you Bonnie for this wonderful dialogue!

  12. Your post is so profound and thought-provoking. So are the direct and soulful comments exchanged in the dialogue between you and other therapists. It's interesting. . . some bloggers do just disappear from view. There was a wonderful poetry blog called Yes is Red and I had engaged in some discussion with the writer about a poetry collaboration volume that I also approached Delwyn about. All of a sudden a few weeks ago, her blog stopped being public and she's "gone," because we had communicated largely via the blog mechanism. Sometimes I stop following blogs because they become too blatantly self-serving or because the writers seem to start dumbing down. Now I know every post can't be a masterpiece, but drivel in 80 percent of one's posts for a several-week period send me packing. As I look back over my life, there have been people that obviously came into my life for only a short time and then the relationship petered out. When I practiced law, my clients were prime examples. But there have been friends who came into my life and then drifted away. Sometimes they show up again and that's usually a delight. Hmm. Much to ponder.

  13. Elizabeth: I think we are all just feeling our way along in this blogging world, and there are risks - but as you suggest we do the best we can.

  14. Rose Marie: You always leave me with something to think about and I appreciate that. Will look up the Truman book that you suggest. Thanks.

  15. Phoenix: Thank you. I'm glad you dropped in to comment.

  16. Nancy: I so agree. The responses here make clear that authentic, real voices and topics are something strongly desired - by at least a few of us.

  17. You have posted of things that have come to my mind after 9 mos. of blogging...have experienced myself a blogger "friend" in South Africa just disappearing. Hard to accept not knowing why...I feel gratifying connections with different bloggers for different reasons and only hope some experience the same with me.

  18. Julie:

    The voice of experience brings good advice:
    "flow and allow". So important. I certainly don't want to dictate how anyone's blog should be. We are all busy people with multiple balls in the air. So as you suggest there must be room for whatever a friend posts - as we never know in what circumstance a post is made. It can be brief, it can be mundance, it would just be nice to find "real". Thanks Julie - flow and allow! :)

  19. Meri:

    Yes, aren't the comments on this post amazing? Including yours! I so agree that every post cannot be a masterpiece and sometimes a quick post is just to say "I'm here and I have not forgotten you" - and I so appreciate that. But we will have preferences and commonalities or find someone from whom we think we can learn. We cannot, unfortunately, maintain relationships with everyone we come across in blogs as in life, as you say.

  20. Wanda:

    It must be disconcerting to have someone you have a regular connection with - just disappear. Are they alive? Did they just grow weary of the process? Was the connection sincere? It leaves one with all kinds of questions. But as Julie says above we have to "flow and allow". People do what they do and it is up to us to adapt to the changes.

  21. I think about this too Bonnie, most especially from the day I was diagnosed. I wondered would I see my children graduate from high school? Would I see them settle into their own lives? What time would we have together? I know that I won't see the end of their stories, but I do hope that the stories we share together will have meaning and leave them with wonderful memories.

  22. Bonnie

    This has been a great discussion and after re-reading it again this morning and reading all the wonderful comments a few words and ideas seem to stand out.

    Firstly blogging is a new way of connecting with others and we have to let it do what it does best in the way it does it and not expect it to be any other way..

    Second, to feel connected with others we like to feel they are being real, genuine and sincere. And therefore that is also what we need to offer them. We need to be authentic.

    Thirdly, blog friends are not real friends so we cannot have the same expectations of them that we do of our real friends

    Fourthly, some will disappear and we will never know why...

    fifthly, we can flow with the process and let it grow into what it can best be

    sixth, respect for others is just as inportant here as in real life, and we must hold the disclosures of others with respect and feel honoured that we are the recipients of that sharing

    seven, empathy and understanding and kindness cannot ever be overestimated...

    eight, sometimes we post a powerful story which attracts much interest and comment, other times we will post a regular entry but it would still be nice to have our efforts acknowledged because any posting does take time and thought and effort...

    nine, some people we meet we would sincerely love to know them as friends, some as acquaintances, and some as ships in the night, just passing by...there will be a range of connections as there are in the real world

    and ten above all else, we are learning more about ourselves through this medium and that must be good...

    Happy days

  23. Delwyn:

    What a comprehensive synthesis of all the thoughts, concerns, suggestions made in this conversation. Your comment should be published. Would you publish it on your blog? If not would you allow me to publish it here, crediting and linking to you, of course?

  24. Another very thought-provoking post, Bonnie! Everyone before me has spoken so eloquently and here am I, one who struggles to string two lines together! I wonder what I'm doing here in such company but I'm drawn back here every day because most of the time, in these 'deep and meaningfuls' and I don't mean that disparagingly, I can relate to it all. After all, I've lived long enough to have experienced most things but I've never been to therapy, never thought I had the need.

    I think that once you get to a certain age and you start experiencing health issues and lose a few friends, you start questioning your own mortality, wondering how much time is left and wanting to cram in as much as possible; loving, quality time, travel, I too, sometimes wonder how my loved ones' lives will unfold after I've gone but it's not something I dwell upon. I'm living for today and I'll make the most of today!

    As far as the blog world goes, that's a hard one; I've wondered, 'what's the point?' so many times. Some follow for a while then never again and, as Elizabeth said, you wonder if you've said something to upset them but I refuse to think along those lines very quickly as I know that you can't please someone all of the time and it's their prerogative to drop off without explanation. I must admit, though, it does sadden me.... You lose some but pick up others along the way - hey, that's life!

    Well, I've managed to open up a bit here, haven't I!

  25. Your ruminations reminded me of a set of contemplations I've done for years:

    As a contemplation for everyone, the Buddha commended the following:

    I am of a nature to grow old.
    I am of a nature to become ill.
    I am of a nature to die.
    I will be separated from all I hold dear.
    I am the heir of my deeds.

    While these sound depressing to contemplate on a daily basis, they paradoxicslly help create the conditions for an awakened life.

  26. These comments are full of wonderful perspective and thought...and that's why I love to blog. Truthfully, I rarely read any blogs where I don't get to "know" a bit about the person. Connections are connections, and by reading thoughts and ponderings of others, I grow as a woman and a human being as well. It's a very lovely thing. It sort of reminds me of the saying about how friends and people come for a season, a reason, or a lifetime. We still gain so much, regardless of the duration.

  27. Alaine:

    Well there you go. That is the point: to share, converse, open up, discover . . . We each share our experiences in a point in time hoping what we share may be of value, stimulate thought, move the discussion around another curve.

    There is so much value in being willing to open up, disclose, share. The connections are tenuous when there is little disclosure.

  28. Dan: Thank you. The Buddhas words help one to accept what is. Simple, but not always easy. Perhaps that is why, as you say, we need to carry them with us, repeat them, on a daily basis.

  29. Jayne: I love that - thank you. " . . . people come for a reason, a season, or a lifetime . . ".

  30. Bonnie, this blogging world has been an amazing source of inspiration and connection for me over this past year. There are friendships I've made here that are very deep and imbued with meaning and purpose. The saddest part is that, for the most part, I don't actually get to see my blogging friends because of distance. I do feel a loss when someone stops blogging, as I do when a friend moves away. I think your last paragraph on risk is the blessed wisdom in your post. We always risk to love, even and especially in meaningful connections, and yet not to love is to leave your world bland. I know that you know this. We don't always know the end of the story, we don't know how are words end up helping someone 30 years down the road when we don't even remember saying them. But to be in the moment and to be open to connection, regardless of the fact that it will likely include loss at some point along the line, somehow, is to allow the fractals of consciousness to move as it is intended. As I say that, a peacock is calling, not 50 yard from me, chiming in with an Ahhhh!

  31. Catvibe:

    Such important thoughts - and so beautifully expressed. " . . . allow the fractals of consciousness to move as intended . . ." Now that is exquisite - and then to have a peacock puncuate the phrase for you . . . . Wow!

  32. I was thinking about the kind of connection we make through blogging. And I thought they're a sort of updated pen-pal relationship. Penpals on steroids, what with the instantaneous quality and with the ability to send photo, audio, and video content, not to mention links.

  33. Dan: So true! Thanks pen pal on steroids. :)

  34. Even here in this intriguing world of blogs where intimacies are revealed through smoke, mirrors, masks and veils, there are stories with which I am engaged, but will never really know the final outcome.

    But isn't this the case in real life too?

  35. Dear Bonnie, What an amazing post and conversation happening here! I think there is so much even we don't understand about why we do this. Maybe it is exactly the distance between us that makes this form of expression safer. Someone concluded we aren't really friends here, and he's right on a certain level, but maybe not. I mean what defines friendship? Longevity? Even in the real world, face to face, how many of the people who brush by your life do you hold fast to for the long run? People come and go, interests wax and wane and and after grieving over several, I've kind of decided that that's okay. It's really the greatest risk to risk your heart, but I keep doing it. Because without that, I can't think of what my point would be. To touch and be touched, either here or in the real world where that is hard to accomplish, is special. And if it goes away tomorrow, then so be it. I just had a grandchild and it made me more conscious about what you talk about in this post. But I will love him with everything I have. Because I'm willing. And I can. Thanks for this thoughtful topic, Bonnie. I love hearing your thoughts.

  36. Barbara: Thanks for the excellent points you make here. I have always believed there is more than one way to be in love relationships - so as you suggest - there is surely more than one way to be in friendly relationships. Perhaps we need to stop comparing - and as you say - accept them for what they are, and however long they are.

    Congratulations on having a grandbaby! You look like your 30 - how did you do that???

  37. Excellent. And I have experienced it. A blogger I followed and felt so close to just up and quit a few months ago. I felt a loss. I have been slow to read my favorites lately, but I'm engaged in my life right now and can't find the time. Winter will be here soon!


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