Tuesday, May 12, 2020


I have been going through the list of contacts on my computer. I have allowed the roster to accumulate unchecked over the years--and it's no surprise that I ended up with over 1,500 people, many of whom I could not remember ever having known.

So I began to use the gift of some coronavirus time to look through the list and ask myself who belonged on it and who did not. In the process I have been coming across the names of old friends and associates with whom I lost contact, some of them many years ago, some more recently, and decided to drop them a line, in part to see if the email address that I had was still valid, in part out of a genuine desire to renew an old connection.

I have been doing this gradually, to avoid the possible glut of emails to which I would be unable to respond; and systematically, starting with the A's. I have now completed the E's, and I'm happy to have heard back from a good number of those to whom I sent a note. In every case, I have followed up my initial email and the response I received with a more complete update, sometimes initiating a longer correspondence.

It has all been a pleasure, in part simply to be in touch again. Connections lost, it seems, can often be renewed, and warm feelings for friends remain unchanged. Old memories, revived, can stimulate the mind, sometimes with clarity, sometimes simply with the glow of pleasurable familiarity. As a writer, I have learned to value solitude, and I'm in danger of forgetting that it is our connections with others that enrich our lives and gratify our hearts.

It strikes me that it is perhaps a good time, too, to renew contact with those with whom I have been in conflict in the past, or whom I have disliked or mistrusted. Reconciliation, whether explicit and examined or simply implicit in re-establishing connection, can serve to heal old, hidden wounds that lurk below the surface of my life, so I am watching for those, too, as I work through my list.

The other benefit of this exercise is to reduce some of the clutter of years past. As I say, there are many on my list who remain a mystery to me. How did they get there? Sometimes I have left clues as to where and when I met them, but I can still invoke no memory of the occasion. In many cases they are simply names that, despite my earnest efforts, mean nothing to me. I regret the lapse of my part, because there must surely have been some reason for their original inclusion. If they are still out there, in the world, I wonder if they have any memory of me?

And then there are the dead. It pains me to press the "delete" button when I come upon their contact cards, as though this action might consign them somehow further to the grave--the graveyard of my memory. Some have died of old age, some of illness, some of causes that will remain forever unknown to me. For most, I never had the opportunity so say goodbye. For some, I recall having mourned their passing and attending their funeral or memorial. When I see their name and remember they are gone, the world feels for a moment a little emptier without them.

I still have a long way to go with this exercise, many more connections to make, many memories to relive. This afternoon I'm looking forward to Zooming with someone I knew only passingly, and many years ago. I found to my surprise that we have more in common that I could have thought. So, yes, there's that...

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