( I am on retreat writing my book, this conversation never happened and will self-destruct shortly, in a poof of smoke.)
I’m surprised by Bud’s sudden placing of himself between Red and the sheep, about a week-and-a-half after Red suffered a severe spinal injury and some temporary paralysis. I don’t pretend to know what is going on in Bud’s mind, but I do know what I see and it challenges much of what I believe.
I think he is aware Red was ill – he is very attached to Red – and is watching over him, It looks like he is making sure the sheep don’t rush Red or come after him.
Red’s work now is limited to lying down near the sheep. Bud walks in front of him and sits down as if this is his job now, or perhaps because he knows Red is vulnerable.
It almost has to be one or the other.
This is not something Bud did before Red was sick, and Red seems to take it as a given, he completely accepts Bud’s presence. In generally, border collies don’t like to share their sheep responsibilities with other dogs.
Dogs can always surprise me, they humble me by reminding me of what I don’t know.
My idea is to watch it without rushing to conclusions. The truth is, I just don’t know. My dogs have never ceased to surprise me and humble me.
Heather called into my radio show Wednesday from South Carolina to ask a dog question, but also to join in the conversation Thomas and I were having. We were talking about the new kinds of interaction between writers like me and the people on social media who interact with me in all kinds of new ways, some good and some bad.
As you know, I’ve been writing about this for years, to the discomfort of people who feel entitled to say anything they wish because I’m asking for it.
These new ways of messaging – I get hundreds of messages a day in one way or another – can be uplifting, supportive, informative, inspiring, unwanted, distracting, undermining, intrusive, rude or inappropriate.
The internet has obliterated the boundaries between writers and singers and artists and their audiences. In many ways, this is a great thing, something I have been fighting for years.
For someone who needs a lot of space in his head, it is a daunting thing. There is no longer much space out there.
I think every creative person who shares his or her life is trying to figure out this new world, and still have enough space in one’s head to create.
Heather asked if it had occurred to me that the people flooding me with unsought advice really just felt the were “friends,” and did what friends do, they try to help.
I loved Heather’s call, she was thoughtful and intelligent and challenging. It was lovely to speak with her. She is smart and nice. To be challenging and likeable is a rare gift these days.
It has occurred to me that many people messaging me see me as a friend because it is true – many of my friends are online. I have hundreds of friends out there I have never seen or met, think of the Army Of Good.
It’s a new kind of friendship, and I’m still learning how to accept it and also keep the boundaries around my life that I have learned to cherish and guard, and that are essential for someone like me to be able to think, which is what I do for a living.
I got another much appreciated message on Facebook today, it was from Lisa:
” I love how you can’t resist sharing tidbits you know us readers will enjoy! I was reflecting on how reading daily, real-time stories provide an experience very different from reading a book — matched to the pace of how life and relationships actually unfold. For example, we will know how things unfold for Red as they happen. We care and feel connected with you, Maria, Red and each member of your menagerie differently than the more condensed drama of a book (which I’m still looking forward to reading!) More like friends, I tell my husband, “hey guess what Bud did today” and share a chuckle. For me this pace fosters more inter-being, less separation of the author-characters as celebrities.”
Heather is really discussing interactivity, the powerful new reality that equalizes the relationships between people like writers and readers. I am a passionate advocate of interactivity, it is the future everyone who read anything has a right to expect. It is the reason I was one of the first writers to start a blog. Lisa did a great job of delineating the difference between interactive new media and static and passive – and failing – old media.
I got another comment on my blog the other day from a reader saying she had come to understand my blog as a series of moments, almost like photographs, “tidbits,” Lisa called them, snapshots of my life.
I love this idea of the posts being like photographs, a running visual and textual account of a life, for all of its warts and problems. It’s not all about cute animals up here on the farm, I would never wish to mislead anyone about that.
I’ve been trying to have this conversation for years, but it seemed nobody else wanted to have it with me, people just wanted me to shut up about it and suck it up.
That’s not how I live, alas.
I am grateful that we are beginning to have a dialogue, a conversation about expectations, boundaries, change and acceptance.
It is important and exciting, and I am learning a great deal from it. We are not calling one another names, or storming off in righteous and cowardly huffs.
I consider many people who read my blog to be friends. I have for years, I have a wonderful relationship with more of my readers than I could possibly count, or ever imagined. I am grateful for that.
I also know that boundaries and identities are being crushed all over the Internet by people demanding – not requesting – things that they have no right to expect or receive. We are pioneers, working to define these boundaries.
I have never seen it as an argument, it has always been a conversation in my mind.
And thanks to people like Lisa and Heather, it is beginning to happen.
(I am on retreat, this conversation did not happen, it will self-destruct shortly.)