E-Thinking of You

Sending joy and laughter through the internet

written by Dorothy Kethle

I send a lot of emails. Sometimes it’s articles, sometimes it’s photographs, sometimes it’s jokes. Occasionally I write a proper letter. I do this in part because I live thousands of miles from most of my friends. I do this in part because I’m retired and have time. But I do it the most because life is uncertain, and I want the people I love to know I think of them often and care about them. I do it because many of the people I care about are going through difficult times, and I want to send a little joy and laughter across the miles. I want them to stop worrying about finances, about politics, about the mortgages, the lost jobs, the health problems, if only for a minute, and laugh, or look at a pretty picture—just for a minute—and to know there’s someone out there who is thinking about them, who loves them, who cares.

I don’t send the same things to the same people. I don’t have “lists.” I go through my addresses and select the ones who will appreciate a particular item. I have friends who, to varying degrees, like birds, from “interested” to “passionate.” A friend sent me a wonderful site with pictures of hundreds of birds. You click on the bird and the bird’s call plays. (Drove my cat wild one evening. He circled the computer for about 10 minutes and then settled down on the keyboard, which, of course, broke the connection.) Anyway, I sent it to three or four people, including a former colleague I hadn’t been in touch with for a long time.

Then there’s my friends who like archaeological stuff, which is one of my passions. They get the latest on El Mirador, but not the birds. Those interested in politics get tidbits not found on the evening news. The cooks get recipes; the gardeners, info on plants, especially ones I’ve encountered here in the tropics. (Since many have been snowbound this winter, it’s nice to let them know the whole world isn’t icy and snowy.) Even the jokes are selective, because some friends have a bizarre sense of humor, some like puns, some like political jokes, and some are eclectic, like me. It’s a lot like shopping for gifts for my friends. I’d never buy the same thing for everyone; I’d choose something that fits their individual personality, something I think they’d like that they might otherwise not have, something that lets them know I “see” them and appreciate them.

I love it when someone e-mails me back to say they liked what I sent, but I don’t expect it. I know everyone’s busy and I just mainly wanted to let them know I was thinking of them and, ideally, made them laugh. Laughter is so important. When I’m feeling down and someone sends a really good joke, it can change my whole day. Sometimes, if I’m really down, I have to wait until I feel better before I read it. But most of the time, I can’t wait to get my daily laughs and giggles. We can’t live without laughter, at least not really live. It helps put things in perspective somehow. It shows us what we can do something about and what we can’t. It reminds us we have a heart.

Sometimes I worry that I send too many emails. But not for long. I figure if my friends don’t want to read them, they don’t have to. Deleting is easy. No blame, as the I Ching says. I’ll never know, and even if I did, it wouldn’t bother me. They still know I was thinking of them, that they’re important to me. It’s the acknowledgement of friendship that’s important, not the content. I do try to indicate when something is a letter, so that will get read and ideally responded to, if not immediately, somewhere down the line.

So that’s why I send a lot of emails. And I hope my friends realize that motivation. I’d feel bad if someone was sick, unhappy, lonely, or worse and I didn’t know it and I hadn’t sent my little offering of love and reminder of friendship, even if it was deleted unread. They’d still know I was thinking of them, and that’s ultimately what’s important.

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