I suppose I knew it in some corner of what remains of my brain, but the "boyhood memories" project has dramatized for me just how much connection I have lost over the years; and how good it feels to reconnect with a man with whom I had established some rapport, whether personal or professional, and failed to follow through.
It is so easy, in our culture, to let things slide; and it requires a conscious effort to pursue a friendship. The truth is, I have been lazy, have taken an easy course that I now have reason to regret. "Only connect," wrote E.M. Forster in Howard's End. In our electronic age, armed with our multitude of devices and our burgeoning social networks, we eagerly substitute the illusion of connection for the reality.
And yet... It should be possible, surely, to capitalize on the potential of electronic communication systems to reach out and touch in a more substantial way. I am discovering that they offer me a start, at least. It's a simple matter to track people down, a marvelously simple matter to shoot off an email through cyberspace and receive, sometimes, an instantaneous response.
That's a start. It incurs the responsibility to follow through. With a telephone call, an invitation for a cup of coffee, for lunch. My project invites men to be in touch, first, with themselves, to recall a memory, a story, and to consider its significance in their lives. To fulfill what I perceive to be its purpose, it also requires, from me, the kind of follow-through I'm talking about: the effort to reconnect.