Monday, February 8, 2010

The State I Found You In

Outside Victoria Station in London, I met my friend AJ Pape. It was exciting, because this is the first time I've met someone from face to face, though I've been volunteering for almost a year now.

I am in communication with several people from the organization per week, by voice, video and email, but I've never met any of them in person. Neither I nor AJ lives in London or even in the UK, we just happened to incidentally be in the same city at the same time.

So it was just a genuine thrill to finally meet AJ.

And it was kind of chaotic, both the planning and the meeting itself.

Early on, I figured out that AJ communicates most easily by email and twitter, and that he has a good mobile data plan in the UK. I also found out early on that I was going to have trouble being online while in London, and that my mobile data plan is prohibitively expensive. Also, both of us had demanding schedules, so there was only a small window on Saturday morning where we could meet, and both of us had schedules that were in flux, not just up until the time we met, but actually all the way through our meeting.

Leading up to this meeting were a number of e-mails stretching back 2 weeks, most of which were probably superfluous, and none of which included a specific time and location. General time and date along with the assumption of immediate means of communication are enough to set a meeting these days. The day of the meeting were no fewer than 6 additional communications through e-mail and text, as well as 2 or 3 missed phone calls. In other words, no voice.

So meeting at the train station aligned with the already-established air of chaos and disorganization; an air of trying to fit in just one more thing, competing with the other things in our lives. There's a thrill about that, about living life to the fullest, pushing what is possible for yourself. There's the thrill of being on the edge of what is possible in this world of constant communication, frontier-less friendships, momentary meet-ups.

And yet.

We met just to talk, so it didn't matter where we were, and certainly both of us had had enough of coffee shops. So we walked around looking for the ticket office as one of us had to buy some bus (coach) tickets. Afterwards, we talked on the underground on the way to the tweetup, on our way to meet others on the edge of immediacy.

We consulted GPS and twitter to find out who and where we were meeting. We were late, we didn't find the others, we walked in the wrong direction. We were distracted by the noise of the trains, the incoming calls and tweets, and the hullabaloo of the marketplace. Being in the city, we were was never quite at rest: concerned about keeping our belongings safe, finding the right item in the marketplace, taking in the sounds and smells, never quite able to make contact for as long as the level of camaraderie would demand.

We had an hour together. We achieved what we had set out to do: had our piece on the next pieces of peace, exchanged numerous hugs, communicated genuinely, were human with one another, created something to take forward.

And yet.

Lack of presence was present. The hour went by with the feeling of constant distraction, of squishing another human being into too small a cubbyhole, of being in one place mentally while physically in another. It was all a blur and a rush. After we parted, it took 10 minutes for my heartbeat to return to normal.

I want to live my life this way. Knowing anything is possible. Getting every last drop out of the time I am here on earth. Making a difference. Touching many lives, frequently, without hesitation, with the urgency that we have only the present in which to live.

And yet.

I want to live my life this way. Having inner peace and calm. Being present and focusing on the moment. Genuinely being with others, hearing who they are and where they stand. Standing and steady. Knowing that steadfastness and ongoing commitment, integrity and presence of mind are what create our future.

Walking the balance.
Between present and future.
Between presence and velocity.
Between passion and peace.
With agility and harmony.

And yet.

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