After You Disappear from the Party

Sometimes I cheat and log in to Facebook, like to wish my mom a happy birthday. I’ve got this blog automated to tweet my posts… so it might sometimes seem like I’m on Twitter, though I’m not. I’ve realized that, when you take the plunge and unplug a few distracting lamps in your life, very few people notice you’ve gone a little dim unless there’s a big announcement about it. And then, when you log back in quietly, just to see, you realize… maybe it’s not so essential to be constantly aware of the conversation. Because, look: it’s gone on without you and no damage done. It’s like when you slip out of a crowded room during a party. You could wonder if, at any point, anyone turned and asked, What happened to her… wasn’t she just standing right here? And would it be worse to discover no one did?

It’s like what happened yesterday. I went to the shore, and I had no internet access all day, from morning until I got home at past 1:30 a.m. What will I miss? I wondered. What if something important gets emailed to me and I don’t answer right away and I miss out and there’s a big problem and what if?

Guess what I missed?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Someone needed to reach me about a freelance project, but she didn’t email, she picked up the phone and left me a voice mail.

In my email inbox, I came back to various announcements from arts organizations. Junk messages, deleted, all of them.

And I think this is the lesson I’m forcing myself to learn right now. Something I thought—still think—is so important may very well not be, in the scheme of things. What happens if I unplug, entirely, for a day? Nothing of consequence! How horrifying.

So what have I been doing while being (partly) invisible? Freelancing, yes. Swimming in the ocean, no (the Atlantic was freezing yesterday). Writing, yes yes. I’ve been working on something that could turn into SOMETHING. Sometimes I’m so excited about it I want to log in to Twitter and tell everyone all about it and then I realize: telling other people doesn’t make something real. Doing the work makes it real. These pages, right here, every minute I spend with them instead of talking about them only makes them more real.

So I’m trying to work harder.

But, all around me, there are people who work harder than I do, with far greater obstacles. I watch them and I’m amazed. Sometimes I wonder if there will ever be a moment when I stop and pat myself on the back and say, You’ve done all you can. I sure haven’t, not yet.

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