Thursday, April 25, 2013

Six Degrees

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

I was watching traffic at a busy intersection -  cars, trucks, pedestrians - stopping and going, stopping and going in that city-rhythm imposed by red, green and yellow lights.  I saw pedestrians gather - waiting for the Walk image to appear.  Three lanes coming, three lanes going, a lane in the middle for turning - fill and release in regulated lines.  Like blood cells pushing their way from great arteries to small,  funneling through those single-cell-width capillaries to their important delivery/pickup destinations.  Fill and release.

It fascinated me.  Thinking about all of the lives - the full, complicated lives - represented by each of the vehicles.  Thinking about the comings and goings of the people at the intersection.  Together for a moment - for a red-light pause - then gone, travelling to their important delivery/pickup destinations.  Strangers.  Passing through.

I imagined the spider-web connections between them - crossing at points of commonality.  Some lives are bound to share the same space at the same time, lives regulated by implacable schedules.  It looks linear; vehicles pass or follow the same vehicles days after day.  Work and school - ebb and flow.  Passengers nod and wave - no names - nod and wave to familiar faces.

And then there is another kind of intersection - it looks circular.  Not influenced by a circumstance of meeting at the intersection - but rather by the ever-expanding rings of intimate acquaintance to social acquaintance to what is referred to as consequential strangers.

Oh brother!  I watch traffic, start thinking, and find myself smack-dab in the middle of the realm of social theory.  Believe it or not, there is a theory out there, a theory about how our world is shrinking.  Not physically.  Not in terms of population size.  Shrinking socially.  The theory says that everyone in the world is a mere six steps away from anyone else in the world.  Six degrees of separation by way of social introduction.  It's a chain theory - based on increasing social connectedness.  I like that.

Here's the thing.  I write everyday - to an invisible audience of people I don't know.  My words.  My thoughts.  I don't know if anyone is even reading what I write - but the words, the thoughts, are out there.  In cyberspace.  Available.  And that audience is six or fewer steps away from being in my social circle.  The funny thing is, I feel responsible to that invisible, possibly non-existent audience.  Everyday I choose between a myriad of topics.  Everyday I try to show the positive.  I am purposeful in trying to find joy - like the title - the joy in this not-so-ordinary world. Because with joy, this world becomes extraordinary.  In our choices, in our purpose, in our vision - this world is anything but ordinary.  It's biblical.  I like that.

Thank you, God, for helping me to see joy.  Continue to help me find the true, the noble, the pure, the lovely, the praiseworthy, the admirable.  

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I know we probably haven't met in person, but I believe that the sharing of our ideas and thoughts, sometimes our hearts and souls, makes us more than strangers. I would like to say friends. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to my little space - I appreciate you.