“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh," he whispered. "Yes, Piglet?" "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw, "I just wanted to be sure of you."”
How comforting it is to reach out a hand and find your friend or loved one right there beside you. I have been thinking about the extensions of that touch. As a loved one departs on a journey, we say, "Stay in touch."
People used to write letters by hand. A letter contained not only the thoughts of the distant friend, but also a tangible sense that they had actually touched the paper and inscribed the words, perhaps even dotted the paper with tears or imprinted a kiss. A letter one could hold against the heart, even a typed one.
The telephone brought us the sound of our friend's voice. How precious that was, with little sense that it was brought to us by jiggling electrons over untold miles. The old telephone ads said, "Reach out and touch someone." Or record a message on their answering machine. Now our cell phones extend that touch to almost anywhere. "Hello Dear, I am on the bus and thinking of you." I have even called home from a meadow high on the side of Mt. Rainier, were there happened to be cell-phone reception.
Email has almost been the death of letter-writing. It is convenient, quick and does not impose on the recipient's time in the same was a ringing phone. With Instant Messaging you can get some of the immediacy and intimacy of a conversation. And what about Facebook? Reach out to a lot of your friends at once and enjoy the comments with which they respond. It is quite addictive. My computer-programmer son spends most of the day connected by Instant Messaging to colleagues and friends all over the world - he calls them friends even when he has never met them. Now if we choose, we can be in contact with our friends virtually all the time.
I will be "out of touch" this weekend. I am going to a house perched on a cliffside far above the beach. There will be sweeping vistas of a major storm that is coming in. There will be no cell phone and no computer, just some good friends, good food, and good books.