CONVERSATION With…the Cheshire Cat From Wonderland…About Virtual Friendships in Older Age
Over the Hill on the Yelllow Brick Road, I saw a grinning cat sitting in a tree. A moment later, the cat disappeared. The next moment, he appeared on the top of a bush. Then strangely, his body faded. All that remained was his smile and his eyes. Was it possible he was the Cheshire Cat from the story of Alice in Wonderland? I had to ask!
CHESIRE CAT: Yes I am. The Cheshire Cat.
But, you live in Wonderland. What are you doing here? How did you get Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road?
CHESHIRE CAT: How does anyone ever get anywhere? With great difficulty.
CHESHIRE CAT: But I just had to come. Like the rest of you here, I’m growing older and trying to figure out where I belong in the world. I’m having trouble relating to the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, and the others the way I used to. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I’m changing. I’m obsessing with my age.
That’s how I ended up Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road. I was looking for friends who understood what I was going through. I wasn’t sure where or how I’d find them, but I felt compelled to look.
CHESHIRE CAT: I’m looking for others, like me, who can appear and disappear in older age.
Oh. Well, I’m sorry I can’t help you. I don’t do that.
CHESHIRE CAT: Of course you do.
CHESHIRE CAT: You’re a blogger. And so are most of the others who are reading my words right now. Your relationships with each other appear and disappear with a tap of an electronic device. As soon as your phones or computers are turned off, you’re gone. And as soon as you return to the internet, you appear.
You know, you’re right—
CHESHIRE CAT: The question is, if your blogger friends are virtual, are they real?
Well, you appear and disappear, and you’re real.
CHESHIRE CAT: Fair point. But how can you be sure?
Because though I can only see your grin and your eyes at the moment, I feel your spirit as you speak. The same is true with my virtual blogging community.
CHESHIRE CAT: Hmmm…Anything else?
Well, when I don’t have access to the internet, I’m sad. I miss my virtual friends.
CHESHIRE CAT: Hmm. Do say more.
Since virtual bloggers and I communicate through posts and comment sections, we say exactly what we want to say, very concisely. No small talk. And we speak from our hearts.
CHESHIRE CAT: Intriguing.
Also- I never worry about the way I look when I communicate with virtual friends. I don’t have to clean my house before I speak to them. I don’t have to make special appointments to get together and then change my schedule around. We appear to each other, and disappear, whenever we’re ready.
CHESHIRE CAT: Increasingly interesting…
And, if I can’t leave home due to health issues or other problems, my virtual community is still there. We communicate the way we always do. So, though I have never met these amazing people in the flesh, they MUST BE REAL.
CHESHIRE CAT: It’s a distinct possibility. In that case…when I return to Wonderland, might I join your virtual community? May I follow your blog?
I would love that.
CHESHIRE CAT: Thank you.
So…I guess you’re saying…you don’t think it’s insane that I call a virtual community of people, who appear and disappear, my friends?
CHESHIRE CAT: Do I think it’s insane? Well…you know what they say in Wonderland. We’re all mad.