Let it Lie There

Some twenty-five years ago, I had a disagreement with a friend and former colleague, who had moved away to live and work--slightly too far to see frequently, but still close enough to intend to see at least regularly

He and I communicated by email (near-instant contact in those heady days), and in a rare case of actually valuing a relationship enough to be forthright, I took the time to write a careful explanation of my perspective in the dispute. 

In response (a few days later; how valuable that time!), he said, "I'm going to let your 'explanation' just lie there...." and changed the subject. 

At the time, I was annoyed (by the quotation marks--"explanation," geez--and still irked from the original dispute). However, I let it go and allowed the change of subject. We never referred to the subject of disagreement again, and that was fine with me. Our friendship subsided--his life got busier, I moved, etc. We're still in sporadic touch, with apparent goodwill on both sides. 

But I think of him often, especially since the political, social, and religious climate has shifted and I find it difficult to be quiet when my conscience prods me.

I also thought of him on Sunday. A difficult day, though not as difficult as it could have been. 

From our beach, December 2020

Sunday, I locked myself out of my phone. I'm still not sure what happened, but it seemed to involve an update and a passcode that I didn't write down and somehow was then locked away from. Promises that I could access contacts and settings stored in the cloud turned out to be empty, because that required the passcode. 

But still, no big deal. It took a couple of hours, but I downloaded and reset logins and did All The Things. I'm still finding an occasional thing to re-set, but it's mostly resolved. 

It became a non-event because I just let it lie there. 

I wrote a personal essay--one of my favourites in my collection--about picking up a piece of driftglass on the beach and hearing my mother's voice in my ear. From there, I go on to examine lingering memories (and pillowcases). The essay shows my (ongoing) experience of communicating with my (long-dead) parents--how affectionate and puzzling thoughts of them are triggered by nothing, by everything. 

As is true of the genesis of most personal essays, picking up a piece of glass from the beach turned out to be a situation I most emphatically did NOT let lie there. Instead, I picked it up and worried it, the way dogs chew a toy for a while, then lick it, then take it elsewhere to gnaw and lick for a while. 

I could have done the same with "this whole phone thing," as I labeled it. I could have allowed it to be A Lesson, a time to seriously re-examine my relationships with phone-mediated forms of communication, with social media, with my thousands of photos, blah blah blah. I'm sure I've shared, in the past, times when I was inadvertently out of touch and recognized anew my relative unimportance.  

All that introspection can be extremely valuable. As is true of most people I know, I'm engaged in some of it already, given pandemic and political changes. Thoughtful consideration of the stuff of our days--where and how I want to spend time in the public eye and contribute (as they say) to a public conversation--yes, useful. 

But that introspection is also, frankly, exhausting. So, "this whole phone thing"? I let it lie there. I changed the subject and considered instead new and old fiction projects plus an essay revision.

And I'm a better person for it.