25 questions part III: Love, family & community

by Kristin on February 5, 2009

in Love, family & community

Photo by Dennis Hill

OK, here’s my last installment of the 25 questions posts, which came out of this crazy idea I had last week. You people were not joking around! These questions are really difficult! They involve defining things like “love” and “friendship.” Sheesh! I know, I asked for it. And like most difficult things in life, I think I’m better for having pushed my way through it.

If you’ve enjoyed hearing my answers, I’d love for you to consider sharing your own answer to one of these questions.

What do you find to be your most surprising lesson about love after all you’ve been through? (The Modern Gal)

That different people experience love in different ways, which means they need to be shown love in different ways. It’s so easy to project our own understanding of love onto other people, and then to be all miffed over why they’re not feeling as loved as we think they should. Not only did I learn that people need different expressions of love, I also learned there isn’t a hierarchy—certain expressions of love or certain needs aren’t inherently better than others. These lessons came out of many difficult months of counseling, and from the book The Five Love Languages, which I highly recommend (for the concepts, NOT the quality of the writing).

Explain the genesis of a scar (physical) you still have from childhood/teenagedom. (Natalie Hart)

When I was about 10, I was playing with my next-door neighbors in their yard and needed to go home for some reason. I remember looking at the gates—the obvious entrances and exits for our yards—which were only about 20 feet away, and deciding that climbing over the chain link fence would be more fun. I ripped open my shin on one of those sharp pokey parts at the top of the fence, had to get a tetanus shot, and still have a scar. (By the way, I’m so glad you specified physical scar.)

Is there a dog in your future and if not, what are your past experiences with pets? (Cobalt Blue)

How much did our middle daughter pay you to ask that question? We have been lobbied hard for years, now, and are considering getting a dog in about a year. We really love my brother’s dog and my brother-in-law’s dog; perhaps we’ll just steal one of them. I grew up with dogs: Sasha, who we got when I was five, and Daisy, the puppy I talked my parents into letting me have when I was 15.

If you had only one wish what would it be? (Jody Wells)

Since I already shared my serious “wish for the world” in my first installment, I’ll give you a more frivolous one: That Jason and I could take the girls to the site of our honeymoon: the town of Oia on Santorini, Greece. I would want to stay in the same little apartment at Aris Caves, overlooking the caldera, and explore the town and the island, eat amazing food, relax and read on the terrace. Pure bliss!

What is the best present you ever received & ever given? (Elaine Tolsma-Harlow)

The best present I’ve ever received…that’s a tough one. If I had to pick just one, I’d say the afghan my mom crocheted for me about five years ago, when I was a single mom. It’s so big and warm and comforting, and every stitch represents her love and care for me. I guess it’s my grownup version of a security blanket!

Two years ago at Christmas, Jason and I put together sets of whole-spice blends to give to our friends. We tried out many different combinations of spices, for flavor and beauty; made big batches and bottled them in spice grinder bottles; then created labels with the ingredients and fun taglines. The box had a label with this haiku:

Life here can be dull/but eating, laughing with friends/is the perfect spice.

If you could spend an hour doing anything you wanted, something for you, what would you do? (LisaNewton)

There are many things I love to do for myself and actually get to do on a regular basis, like taking long walks and going out with my husband. And if it was warmer out, I would spend an hour on my porch with people I love. But the thing I really love that I too rarely get to do is enjoy a long, leisurely conversation with a good friend (see my definition of “friend,” below). Preferably over coffee or lunch.

When your daughters ask you “What does it mean to be in love?” how will you/do you/did you answer? (Nancy Pagaduan)

My daughters haven’t asked me this question yet, but when they do, I will tell them that when you’re truly in love, the person you’re in love with makes you feel more like yourself than you have ever even felt on your own. The sensation is one of completion and rightness. It feels like all the little holes and missing details in you, that otherwise keep you from being all that you might be, are made complete by what this other person brings to you, and vice versa. I will also tell them that just feeling that way about someone doesn’t mean they’re automatically supposed to marry that person. :)

Of the 255 “friends” listed for you on facebook, how many/what percentage are actually friends? (Dennis McNulty)

This question demands that I concoct and share my base definition of “friend,” doesn’t it? Hmmm. Here goes it: A friend is someone who cares about and accepts the real you, and is willing to be real with you in return. A friend wants the best for you—she/he hurts when you hurt and is joyful when things in your life go right. “Trust” is an important part of it all, and a natural byproduct of people being real with each other and wanting the best for the other.

With that definition in mind, I would say 171 of my 258 Facebook friends fall into the category of true “friend.” (Don’t worry, I didn’t actually go through and count, but I think that’s a pretty good guess!)

How has your experience with social media (twitter, facebook, blogging, etc..) changed your understanding of community? And special bonus question, why do you look so good from behind? (Jason, your husband)

Ah-hem.

Two things have happened regarding social media. The first is that I’ve broadened my understanding of community to include people I hardly ever see and even those I’ve never actually met. I’m amazed by how connected I feel to many of the people who comment regularly on my blog, even if I’ve never met them. Certain people on Twitter have become a part of my daily life, providing banter, laughs, support, and generally making me feel less alone.

Having said that, I can sense how I protect myself in social media communities. There’s an element of trust and accountability that’s missing in online community. Even if I feel like I really know these people, do I? Is it possible to fully trust someone you’ve never looked at, eye to eye? We exercise a lot of control in these relationships, dipping into them when we feel like it and disappearing when we’re “not in the mood” or when someone’s getting on our nerves. That isn’t a very realistic picture of life or community. In many ways I’m old-fashioned, I guess. I’m still a big believer in the power of sitting down and breaking bread with others. Nothing virtual will ever take the place of that.

Bonus:

And why do I look so good from behind? Because when God was making me he knew how much my husband would one day appreciate that certain curvature. :) It’s God’s way of saying “I know what you like, Jason, and I’m cool with that.”

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  • http://blueduckcopy.com Jamie Simmerman

    Ok, that was one of the “funnest” round of 20 (or so) questions I’ve ever read. :D

    I loved the question about your duaghters’ names, and that last paragraph… :D

  • Cobalt-Blue

    My dog’s favorite hobbies are long walks, playing at the dog park, retrieving balls, riding in the car, and cuddling. I grew up with first a cat and then a dog. Looking forward to the “Puppy-Posts” next year!

  • Alli Butler

    I found your comments about “virtual friends” particularly interesting. Having been an online gamer to varying degrees of obsession since the late 80′s, I know what it’s like to have online “friends” with whom you “socialize” on a daily basis and even work together in “guilds” towards a common goal. As game technology has advanced from text-based, multi-user-dungeons, such games now incorporate graphic player images, clothing, tattoos, hairstyles and real voice-over-audio chat. Sometimes your guild-mates actually talk to you real-time in-game. And that’s just the gamer geek stuff. I remember when my teen-ager was first using instant messaging and I kept a close eye on his friends list. I would say “who is Jordan?” and he would say “oh, that’s Mark’s cousin in Dallas…” many friends of friends became his online friends. He still keeps up (virtually) with a kid that he met in Mexico about seven years ago. In this era of text messaging, cell phones, email, IM, Facebook and Myspace having a “real” conversation (let alone breaking bread) is beginning to be a lost commodity. I have observed a shift in social dynamics in both my own generation and in the next. I am sure that hundreds of papers are being written about the sociology of this era right now, but I’ve experienced the shift in phenomenon first hand and find it…interesting.

    Imagine what an impact the wireless had on communication. Then the telephone. Now look at where we are – you can literally have an immediate exchange with your brother on the other side of the country instantaneously. But at the same time, you can have an instant exchange with someone you’ve never met…or a friend from elementary school whom you haven’t actually spoken to in 20 years. So who quantifies which relationship is actually “real”?

  • http://www.travelinlocal.com LisaNewton

    I’m with you on the community aspect and online friends, but I have managed to take the online offline a few times. It’s amazing when you make a connection with someone first online, then email, followed by phone, and then in person. Trust is a hard won commodity online, but taking it to the next level, if it seems appropriate, is a wonderful way to make online “real.”

    Thank you for answering my question. Long walks, taking my camera of course, is one of my favorite activities, too.

  • http://www.tjhirst.com/ TJ Hirst

    I love your comparison of online communities versus real-life one. I think we talk online as if the only communities that exist are those, but like you said, I, too am “still a big believer in the power of sitting down and breaking bread with others. Nothing virtual will ever take the place of that.” Fun way to make the routine 25 things more palatable and connective.

  • http://themoderngal.blogspot.com The Modern Gal

    I’ve really enjoyed your answers and the diverse questions. Thanks for doing this.

  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com/ Kristin T.

    Jamie, I’m SO glad you mentioned the last paragraph. It was supposed to be “a funny,” but then I had the feeling that people thought I was being vain, or sacrilegious, or both. It’s so nice when someone *gets* you, isn’t it?

    Cobalt-Blue, now I’m positive our daughter is paying you off somehow. You’re pretty convincing about how great dogs are. :)

    Alli, yes, trying to define which relationships are “real” is becoming a fascinating challenge, with many new layers of complexity. But in some ways, the decisive factor is the same as it’s always been, for on-line and face-to-face friendships: We still rely on the intuitive *feeling* we have about a person. We trust our instincts to tell us how they feel about us, and whether we can trust them.

    LisaNewton, I haven’t had that experience yet, but there are several people in my on-line community who I’d love to eventually meet in person. Those friendships feel very much *real* already, but it would sure be nice to celebrate them with a bottle of wine. (And thanks for asking one of the questions for this series!)

    TJ, while it’s true that nothing can take the place of sitting down together in the same room and sharing a meal, it does make me kind of wistful and sad. I mean, I know I’ll probably never meet most of the people who feel like a part of my daily community. So what’s the next best thing? Talking on the phone? Is there a meaningful way to grow and honor those relationships? Hmmm…

    The Modern Gal, thanks for reading, and for letting me know that you enjoyed it!

  • http://www.jenx67.com jenx67

    Great questions beget great answers. Good job! I enjoyed reading this very much.