Thursday, November 29, 2012

Friends, and long distance

When I was a kid growing up, long distance meant one thing: special, and often expensive, phone calls.

A long distance phone call was reserved for important occasions.

For regular communications there were airmail letters (if you had a lot to say) and postcards, if you wanted to share a few glib words and make people envy your vacation choice.

Things sure have changed.

And they continue to change. The internet has changed the way we live, sometimes in ways that are dramatic.

Take my life, for instance.

I blog.

Why? The source can be traced to my desire to commute to work on a scooter instead of driving a car or riding a train. It's a choice that few people make in North America. Because it's my nature, I turned to Google for information.

What I found was the Modern Vespa Forum, and a number of moto and scooter bloggers.

What a treasure trove those finds have turned out to be. I found all the information I thought I needed, and a whole bunch more that I didn't know I needed.

And that's what led to starting this blog.

I was raised to believe that giving is more important than receiving. Having received so much from people whose blogs I had read, I knew I had to start a blog of my own to return the favour.

I was not long after that I found the unexpected. I found friends. Good friends. What kind of good friends?

Well that depends how you define "friend". I suppose we all have slightly different definitions.

Some of us may make friends easily, and may have many friends.

Like many of us who have demanding careers, and have married and raised a family, personal time has been the exception rather than the rule for me.

I've never had many friends.

Long distance took a toll on the friendships I did have. Very close friends moved hundreds of miles away. It was difficult to maintain those friendships. In many cases, long distance eventually dissipated the intimacy and shared experience that make friendships work.

Lately a reversal is taking hold.

The more I ride, the more I blog and post on the forum.

My words are seeds, and I have literally sown thousands of them.  It often turns out that they are seeds of friendship.

Long distance friendships have sprouted. No one is more blown away by my new friendships than yours truly.

Let's get back to what it means to have a friend. I define friendship as someone who devotes precious time to you at the expense of spending time with someone else.

By that definition I have earned a number of friends.

I define a good, or close friend, as someone who will go out of their way for you. By that definition, I count four new good friends.

The interesting thing is that they are all long distance friendships.

I don't want to embarrass them because friends don't embarrass friends, so I won't go into detail about who they are, where they live, their acts of kindness, or how they have gone out of their way to spend time with me, or do special favours for me.

These are people I would invite to share my home in a heartbeat, lend my Vespa to, share a meal with, go out of my way to help, or travel with. Truly good, close friends.

This experience has helped me to understand the power of the internet and of shared interests to obliterate the barrier of long distance.

It's yet another way that riding a scooter has enriched my life more than I could have imagined when I set out on this adventure.

Life on two wheels rocks!

12 comments:

  1. In today's world distance doesn't mean much anymore. The Internet has changed so many things and truly made the world a smaller place. My scooter was the catalyst of change for me, it has taken me on an amazing journey and I am so happy I hopped on and fell in love with everything scooter. I have met some wonderful people and made new friends and it is an exciting adventure .

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  2. Life on two wheels does rock. Well said.

    It continues to amaze me how small the world seems with the internet. And how close we feel to those we have never met or have just met for the first time.

    I remember back in Grade 4 ( long time ago) we were all assigned a pen pal in Australia. We corresponded by mail until we both graduated then lost touch. I still remember her name and most of her address. If we'd of have the Internet back then I am sure we'd still be in touch.

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  3. Ain't the blogosphere grand? The iMBC is an example of how the interweb makes the world a little bit smaller. I appreciate all the friends I've made online...even those krazy kiwis.

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  4. I, too, am astounded by the people I am in regular contact with because of riding. I started reading blogs when I started riding. I didn't want to have to learn all things the hard way. I began by making comments and then started a blog...and then another. The conversations have deepen with the folks whose blogs I read and who read my blogs. It has been a exciting adventure.

    I'm very glad you began blogging and came into my world. Keep it going.
    ~Keith

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  5. Well said! The interweb does make it easier to make and maintain long distance friendships, and to meet people you wouldn't have met otherwise. But you have to be open for it.

    I have always enjoyed meeting new people. As a kid it was easy to hang out with a bunch of other kids, and find buddies or een soulmates.

    In adult life making friends is much more difficult. This is where motorcycling (and the blogging about it) comes in, and suddenly you will find it comes as easy as making friends during childhood (at least this is how I feel about it).

    Glad I met you through the www, and even better I had a chance to meet you in person.

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  6. David:

    We are all friends, some we have met, and others "to be met". I love to meet people. The internet has made it easier to find others with similar interests

    Isn't it amazing that when we finally meet for the first time, it was like we had always been friends ?

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

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  7. Terrific post! It seems that making friends and being on two wheels really do go together, wherever you are in the world. Much of what you said was recognised and understood here in this house.

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  8. Dar, I agree with you, I think that catalyst is just the right word. It's not the vehicle per se, it's the will to take on a special challenge that sets you apart and makes you special in turn. That "specialness" is like a brand that attracts others who are similarly branded, and attracts you to them. If the brand is strong, and riding any powered two-wheeler more than casually really sets you apart, the bond with others similarly enthralled is also strong. And that is what makes this whole adventure so satisfying.

    Trobairitz, Want to bet that the Internet could help you reconnect? I know that if anybody form my grade four class wanted to find me it would take them one search. 12 keystrokes, 18,900,000 results in 0.28 seconds, and the answer would be on the first page of Google's results. I dare you.

    Troubadour, you are truly blessed to have a partner with whom you can share your love of motorcycles. If Bob, and a few other intrepid bloggers meet up with some like-minded bloggers in Maine, does that count as an iMBC event?

    Keith, the feeling is certainly mutual. With a little luck, we may yet have the pleasure of meeting in person. You know, I think that it's in some ways more challenging to ride a small displacement motorcycle or a scooter than a large motorcycle, simply because it doesn't have that macho aspect that makes an explanation unnecessary. Nevertheless, when I get gently kidded about commuting on a scooter, it's always by someone who doesn't ride, and can see that under the kidding there is a realization on their part that they don't have what it takes to try it themselves, tinged with a little envy. Other riders, whether they ride Harleys or sport bikes, never tease.

    Sonja, you'll be pleased to know that all those pictures we took in Vancouver regularly pop up on the iMac on the kitchen island and never fail to bring a smile to my face. I look forward to an eventual repeat. I'm sure we'll have another opportunity.

    Bob, truer words were never spoken. Here's to new adventures!

    Gary, thanks for the kind words. All the best to you and yours.

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  9. A very thought-provoking post. I too feel that I have made a number of friends through blogging but I think it's not the blogging per se that makes the difference but rather the subject - the blogging is just a communications vehicle that exposes you to more "potential" friends. I have blogged in other forums/communities without nearly the same sense of cameraderie I get from the 2-wheel community. Perhaps motorcyclists are just friendlier people? More thought required obviously.
    Thanks for stimulating the brain cells on a lazy Saturday night.

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  10. **chuckles** I wrote another blog for about 4+ years. It got to a point where some people were calling me an "expert" on the subject. Something I never claimed to be. I quit that blog because I felt I had nothing new to add or say to the community.
    I wrote about soccer for a now defunct website for a few years - and earned the rare distinction of having over a 1000 posts on the BigSoccer.com website under the tag "Rob Wilson is an idiot." All because I wrote something that pissed off some people. :) I also had a lot of defenders.

    My point is this....your words and thoughts do matter to people. Any one that writes, and writes well, is planting a seed. That seed will hopefully make them think, make them reconsider a long held belief or learn something new. I may never meet the people that I've "befriended" along the way but I know I've had some influence in their lives. I know they have influenced mine as well.

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  11. David, I'm never sure whether to use a blogger or forum member's name when I know it, or their handle. I go back and forth on this. It's the same issue as whether to address a person as 'Mr. Lastname' or Mrs. Lastname' or use their first name. It's all about familiarity and whether it will be appreciated or not. I wonder what it is about the two wheel community. It may be that riding on two wheels is humbling. No matter how much you learn, or how proficient you are, there is always the presence of risk. An oily spill, or loose dirt, or an edge trap, or potholes. Someone posted an incredible YouTube video of a guy on a cruiser with hard cases rolling very competently along a marina dock when his left hardcase clipped a quayside bollard sending him and his bike off the side of the dock and about 12 feet onto a floating dock below. Not clear how that ended for the rider. All good, thoughtful riders are conscious of ever present risk. All the moto bloggers I read are those kinds of riders. We are naturally good-natured folks with a healthy respect for risk, and a willingness to take a few. I believe that this is one part of the bond we experience.

    Rob, that's a pretty funny story. A thousand posts! Well one thing is clear to me, an idiot you certainly are not. I sometimes can't help but see the comments people post on stories on the National Post web site. Now there's a place for petty vitriol if ever there was one. Even Modern Vespa which is a very civilized forum breaks out in acrimony from time to time. Haven't seen anything like in on the moto blogs though.

    The worst I've seen are the Spam comments that are generally more hilarious than offensive. They stick out like a sore thumb. Like a parrot trying to join in on the after dinner banter.

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  12. David - I'll respond to pretty much anything, so David is fine, as is Dave, or Hey You! But you're right, the moto community seems a lot tighter and friendlier, whether in person or on line. Nearly anyone with a motorcycle will talk to you if you're a rider as will most 'civilians'. And perhaps it is because we are more exposed to risk (by choice) and thus seem more accessible. Whatever it is I like it!

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