on december 31, 2010 i made a different sort of new years resolution: i decided i would meet all 324 of my facebook friends. i posted a video about my resolution on facebook. it was the first video i had ever uploaded and i was quite proud of myself. the next morning, as i had time to reconsider this, so many of my facebook friends had commented that they were looking forward to seeing me. i even got a facebook friendship request from a woman who said that while she lived in wyoming (very far away from my home in winneta) i was not to worry because she was moving to iowa (much closer). and a friend from the philippines posted a picture of a roasted pig and wrote that his entire village was going to give me a big party when i showed up. too late to delete the video. . .
that felt like a lot of pressure.
but i really believe that what is truly worth doing must at first glance appear impossible. and my resolution seemed impossible: i would have to be on an airplane nearly every week. i would have to visit nome, alaska at the northwestern tip of america, florida at its southeastern tip and everywhere in between. i would have to visit thirteen countries. i would have to be organized about it because, like every other new years resolution, it’s for one year. 365 days, 325 friends. and i couldn’t weasel out of it because everybody i knew on facebook knew about it.
so i started visiting friends, the ones closest to home until i got a little more confident and could consider a lane ride. . . and i ignored the “how are you ever going to get yourself around the world?” that popped in my head. there isn’t a single day last year that i didn’t think “i’m giving up” and “this is stupid”. . . and there isn’t a single day last year when someone didn’t tell me “you should give up” and “this is stupid”. . . oddly, my facebook friends–the so called “just facebook friends” — posted encouragements and support. it really does make a difference. if you have a facebook account, go out today and randomly pick five friends. post something positive on their wall. i promise you, they will glow. . .
at the end of 2011, i had visited with 292 friends–exactly ninety percent. the remaining ten percent either didn’t want to see me, are dead, are in jail, have abandoned their accounts, have been involved in their own travels so that i can’t pin them down, or are spambots. oh, and four people who have become too famous to consider me their friend anymore.
this year, i have been more focused on visiting friends who are like me. there’s a name for me–agoraphobia, or what the ancient greeks would call “fear of the marketplace”. i like to think of myself as reclusive, hermetic, withdrawn, or maybe just shy. and maybe scaredy cat is a good one. i’m one of those people who would never leave my house if i didn’t have to. you have people like that in your family, in one of the houses on your street, amongst your friends.
yesterday, i really didn’t want to leave the house but i was scheduled to visit facebook friend #302. janet browall lives about two hours away from me and i was worried because my windshield is cracked. my car is falling apart. and also, to be fair, i ALWAYS want to stay home. but i dutifully drove west. . .
we spent a wonderful hour filling in the gaps of facebook. you can’t be friends just by paying attention to posts. there has to be some physical interaction, even if it’s just sharing a cup of coffee at starbucks. she has panic attacks and is worried about an upcoming flight she has to take on her own. i have suggested self-hypnosis because it worked for me. also, a preflight beer. or four.
i felt like janet and i had known each other forever and i would have liked to spend more time with janet, but i had one other errand to do. . .
one of the things i am amazed by is the wide variety of religious and spiritual beliefs amongst my friends. i have come to appreciate how we all strive to make a connection to something beyond ourselves. my facebook friend bonnie bradlee was the #70 friend i visited last year. we knew each other in high school and last year we met in person for the first time in thirty years. bonnie has become a christian and her faith has led her to become part of missions of healing and support around the world. last year, she went to hydrabad, india to mission. she had a remarkable story to tell me yesterday.
she also related to me that when she was in india, people wanted to have their pictures taken with her more so than with any other person on her mission. at the end of the trip, it was with a weary and sorry heart that she discovered that the reason people wanted that souvenir was because she is, well, overweight. and she believed God has spoken to her, telling her that she cannot mission to his people who are sick or starving when she represents excess. so for her, this year is about bonnie. we worked out together and i saw an incredible determination to lose weight. not for vanity’s sake, or to attract the attentions of a man, but to be able to better serve the Lord.
however, i am a mischievous woman. and i believe God appreciates a little whimsy. i took bonnie to get a manicure and a pedicure. after all, Paul the Apostle said to the Corinthians “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? you are not your own; you were bought at a price. therefore honor God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). he had some definite opinions about manicures, pedicures, working out, getting a good haircut, although he really didn’t go in for laser hair removal and restylane.
today, i will work on getting that windshield fixed and then i have to get myself out on the road again. . .