Social networkers who know me might get the inkling that I am a fan of Twitter. Social Networkers who know me well, will tell you if they stick a pin in me would (after they listen to my obscenities), expect I’d bleed in short spurts of 140 characters.
That is to say, Twitter is in my blood!
My wife would tell you what my good friends and my very tactful new acquaintances, away from the internet, won’t. And that is this: when I’m left to my own devises, and have no outside restrictions imposed on me, I can talk a subject to death while trying to get to the meat of it. It’s just the crazy way those zany electrical conduits race on their circuitous route from my brain to my mouth. I don’t control them, so I disavow any responsibility over uprooted signs, overturned food carts, or crossing guards resigned to shaking their staffs, along their way.
But, put me on Twitter and my brain becomes a master of brevity—which is not the same thing as being the master of intelligent brevity.
Still, what I want to talk about today is brevity, the selection process—and mother-love.
Brevity & the Selection Process: Would you agree with me that the novel is a kind of relaxed narrative? The reader expects the tempo to be relaxed in the sense that he is planning to invest time in letting it unwind according to its own internal rhythm until it’s ready to lay out a satisfying conclusion. This has nothing to do with the tension within the plot. It has everything to do with the reader not feeling he must rush through to its climax. In other words, it takes time for all the elements to come together, to percolate, if you will. A novel can’t be rushed.
I’ve heard poetry defined as distilled thought. There is as much going on in a good poem as there is in a good novel. And it can take as long, or longer, to get to a full appreciation of the poem’s meaning. By being distilled thought, its profoundness can be expressed as much by what is left out as by what is included. Hence, it says much by saying little.
If poetry is distilled thought, some might define the Haiku as distilled poetry. I don’t know that I would agree with that, but it does seem to point us in the direction of an interesting observation:
The need to abbreviate. It seems to me there is a deep-seated need in all genres of fiction to abbreviate. I’m tempted to drag under the umbrella of this discussion all creative endeavors. But, after all, the intent is to show brevity, so I’ll hold back my urges.
I’ve already mentioned the Haiku and Poetry. In the novel format, a short story might be considered a step removed in the abbreviation process. And a step removed from that is flash fiction. (Again, I’m just showing the predisposition to brevity; I’m not to get bogged down in definition of what is this and what is that.) Want something shorter than flash fiction? Try A LITTLE SOUL by Darren Cormier, which is a collection of 140 stories, none longer than a tweet! http://amzn.to/WHAPS7.
Well, well, well … what a fortuitous segue!
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About two or three weeks ago I overheard something on a news program. Overheard because I was doing something else and wasn’t really listening. So, instead, what I heard was blah-blah-blah … blah-blah …Twitter … blah…Tweet” and I looked up. The story moved me enough to go to the website that was given at the end of the story (and will be given at the conclusion of this post).
It is the content of that Website I want to share with you.
A Son’s Love For His Mother. Journalist Scott Simon and his dying mother are the true subjects of this post. Scott Simon was at his mother’s side during the final phases of the dying process. Scott seems to be a deeply feeling person. He is certainly a loving son. He is also articulate. Add to those three qualities one more fact, that he has a Twitter account and the reader knows he is privy to another kind of distillation.
Scott Simon’s tweets bring his followers the immediacy of Distilled Love, Wisdom and Emotion. It’s easy to skim through above sentence. But, I’d like you to read it again, with key words italicized:
“Scott Simon’s tweets bring his followers the immediacy of Distilled Love, Wisdom and Emotion.” We all can share in the emotion, the love and the wisdom in a series of 140 character tweets—with this difference: only his followers shared the immediacy of Love, Emotion and Wisdom that were distilled into those140 characters. And, isn’t that the beauty of r-e-l-a-t-i-o-n-s-h-i-p that is Twitter?
At this point, let me share some of Scott Simon’s tweets.* I’ll let their eloquence speak for themselves:
Mother cries Help Me at 2:30. Been holding her like a baby since. She’s asleep now. All I can do is hold on to her.
When she asked for my help last night, we locked eyes. She calmed down. A look of love that surpasses understanding.
I see dawn coming in sky and want to hold it back to keep my mother from what’s ahead–to keep my mother, period.
I just realized: she once had to let me go into the big wide world. Now I have to let her go the same way.
Just spent 45 mins looking for mother’ favorite dental floss. Waste of time? Act of faith.
In middle of nights like this, my knees shake as if there’s an earthquake. I hold my mother’s arm for strength–still.
Her passing might come any moment, or in an hour, or not for a day. Nurses saying hearing is last sense to go so I sing & joke.
I know end might be near as this is only day of my adulthood I’ve seen my mother and she hasn’t asked, “Why that shirt?”
I think she wants me to pass along a couple of pieces of advice, ASAP. One: reach out to someone who seems lonely today.
And: listen to people in their 80’s. They have looked across the street at death for a decade. They know what’s vital.
Oh, and: Oh earth, you’re too wonderful for anyone to realize you. It goes too quickly.
On Monday at 7:17 p.m., Simon tweeted twice:
The heavens over Chicago have opened and Patricia Lyons Simon Newman has stepped onstage.
She will make the face of heaven shine so fine that all the world will be in love with night.
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NOTE: For the voyeuristic among you who want to dig deeper into my Love Affair with Twitter, this would be the weekend to do it. From August 16th until midnight, August 18th you may pick up your FREE copy of The BITTER & the SWEET of TWITTER & the TWEET for your Kindle or Kindle on PC. http://amzn.to/15BtuU1.
*For the whole article, read NPR Weekly Edition: http://lat.ms/149hGsz