My Facebook friends list, for the longest time, hovered around 175 people. Of course I barely knew most of them; some were friends I knew from one job or another, maybe college or family, others just casual acquaintances met in passing and clicked on for a lark. It was all a bit boring and banal, to be honest, but I enjoyed scrolling through my feed anyway and hanging out with the peeps, especially when Facebook and few online games were my only source of social interaction. Recently though, about the same time I began posting the long-form, introspective status updates and making all of them public, I also began hitting the friend request button on a bunch of profiles Facebook presented to me as potential buddies.
You know the ones I mean, the profiles that show up on the sidebar or in your feed almost like an ad, with the prompt People You May Know. I’d ignored them before that, stupid FB spam, but for some other-worldly reason, as I was opening up my chest to spill my guts in a weird sort of exercise in self-flagellation, I began to pay attention to these. I looked at the faces, then at the number of mutual friends, if any (mostly none at the time). I hovered my mouse over the names so the pop-up would tell me what this person thought of themselves in the wee bit of text that would show up. That little bit of info can say a lot about a person when they write it themselves.
I discovered that a place of higher learning called The School of Hard Knocks had graduated a heck of a lot of uninformed people and that Boss at Retired was a pretty common job description for most of them.
But then I began to see words like Poet, Writer, and Artist, and I would take a closer look at these. On a whim, I hit the Friend Request button on just one, but then another, and maybe one more that looked interesting and inspiring. I wasn’t sure why I did it at the time, but I’ve formed a bit of a theory now that my friends list is up to 563.
I have watched the film Contact, with Jodie Foster, a few times. From a novel written by astrophysicist Carl Sagan, it describes the first interaction of humans with a more technologically advanced extraterrestrial life form, and though I’ve never read the book, the movie itself is quite eloquent with its themes of discovery, understanding of our place in the cosmos (see what I did there?), and the awe-inspiring beauty of the universe around us. At one point Jodie’s character, weeping as she looks out on a celestial event, says, “They should have sent a poet.”
Surrounding myself with creative people, people of like minds and similar ideologies, people I think of as smarter and more inspired than I am, is something I hope will help me nurture myself and the deeper things I’ve found myself exploring.
I’ve come to call it soul soaking, and so far it’s working out pretty well.