Monday, August 4, 2014

Scarborough Fair

Remember me to one who lives there.  The line from Scarborough Fair spins in my head these days, as I practice an arrangement of it in preparation for an upcoming concert.

Things have changed, haven't they?  "Say hello to so-and-so" is more of a formality than a necessity in these days of email and social media.  We might as well just say hello to them ourselves.  What does this mean for our relationships?  It is worth considering.

For once she was a true love of mine.  He sings in the past tense, speaking of a relationship that ended because of separation (probably distance), and which he proposes could continue (if she can perform some impossible task).  The strange story aside, there is a natural and logical thread here concerning relationships: they ebb and flow with distance.

While this is still partly true of our world today, I find myself feeling a bit guilty when I pass along greetings to someone I have lost touch with.  Why?  Because with technology at my fingertips, I feel that I could have done better.  It's true - partly.  Yet the other part is true as well: that we each have a certain relational capacity, that friendship and romance change with time and place, and that there is value to knowing the people you share a space with that goes beyond convenience.

How are we to navigate this?  What are our expectations when we meet someone, when we say goodbye?  Do I write an email to a friend today or do I sit down and have dinner with a neighbor?

I do value certain relationships enough to write those emails and letters.  Yet there are many wonderful relationships that stretch thin with distance, and I must let go in favor of being present where I am.

What are your thoughts?  How do you connect with exploding social networks on a finite-time basis?  Do you make decisions about which relationships to cultivate, or does it more often "just happen"?


  1. Don't think you need to be embarrassed about sending greetings, communication is a two way street. Unless the other person has been reaching out to you, and you've ignored those invitations, there's no guilt either way. But I hear you. It's really tough to figure out how to be present and yet not give up on friendships elsewhere. Thanks for putting so much work into the people around you... geographically and virtually.

  2. This is something we've been thinking a lot about here too. How much time and effort should we spend in keeping up with friends and family back home, and how much should we be investing in making new friends here? It's been tough even to have some of the few people we've gotten close to move away—is this a sign that we should be putting more effort into befriending our neighbors here, or less?