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This isn’t really written to anyone. Or maybe it’s written to everyone. It’s written *for* me, because I need to get my thoughts out. It’s likely to be rather scrolly, so I’d rather you skip it now than complain later about the length.

I don’t really spend time on TMF anymore. I’ve dropped in less than ten times in the last six months, usually in response to a Fool on FB discussing something that happened here. But the friendships I’ve built here over the last decade and a half continue. Some of those are very close friendships – people I share deep thoughts and feelings with regularly. Some are more acquaintanceships (is that a word?) that I continue on Facebook, with the closeness/distance you have for someone you see every day and chat with about mostly surface things – as if they were the coworker a few desks over; you’d still be sorry if something bad happened to them, if in a less personal way. And there are many, many Fools who fall somewhere in between. The tornados in Oklahoma really brought home to me how these friendships have changed my perspective on the world and its events. I’d noticed it before, but this seemed to tie it all up into a bundle. And I wanted to share that bundle here.

My world used to be simpler. I knew the people I saw every day. I had relatives that I’d see every year. I might have a friend or two who’d moved away but we’d keep in touch now and then. Events that happened elsewhere were news stories… *just* news stories. I would often feel sympathy, or empathy. I would get sentimental or whatever. But still, the events were distant. And I could easily maintain that distance if I wanted to. My world now, while not truly global, is a hell of a lot bigger. When things happen, it’s more likely that they happen to someone I know, or that someone I know is dealing with the grief of someone they know. It seems sometimes that nothing is more than 3 degrees of association away.

I truly believe that by being here for so long, by continuously reading about the lives/hopes/dreams/tragedies of so many other people with so many other perspectives and experiences, I’ve gotten a much broader view of the world than I could from just the regular gathering of 20 or so like-minded people for a few beers and hamburgers on a three-day-weekend. And I believe this helps me to think further outside of what is best or easiest or most convenient for ME, and see more of how things affect people whose lives are a bit different from my own. I’m still limited, of course. Most of my friends are Americans, Brits, Canadians, or Australians. Most are Christians or Atheists. As I said, my world isn’t yet global. But it’s bigger than it was. And bigger than it would have been if I hadn’t started posting here at TMF.

My heart goes out to the people in Oklahoma. No longer because I saw some scary footage on the news, but because I actually know people who are worried about loved ones. Just as the WTC attack affected someone I know, and cancer affects people I know, and miscarriages, divorces, job loss, etc. Of course I hear about more good things also. Marriages, births, graduations, promotions, etc. But somehow the joy doesn’t hit me as hard as the grief.

It’s not easy to be touched by things that happen to “someone over there” that you know nothing about. It’s much more a part of my life when it happens to people I know.

My world has become much bigger.

My world hurts much more than it used to.

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