Saturday, September 10, 2005

Thoughts, hopes, wishes

These days we are surrounded by sadness, reaching out to us from TV, radio, newspapers, internet, email. And in the middle of all of that another moment of sadness falls - the news that Derek, of one of my favorite podcasts, Skepticality, is seriously ill. His podcasting partner Swoopy recorded and posted a short message explaining what had happened, and even though my heart has cried out this week over and over for so many others, it dropped just a little bit more.

It's not news that internet relationships offer a strange sort of intimacy with people, despite the fact that you might never meet them or know what they really look like, or, sometimes, even learn their true names. Podcast relationships are the same - only it's their voices that reach you, that literally speak to you. Derek (with Swoopy) has been in my ears for an hour or so a week - probably for more time than I spend on the phone with my mother. Like the many other people flocking to the website to share their thoughts, I feel like he is a friend.

Thoughts. It's always been weird for me to be in a position where someone is ill or some tragedy has struck, and not to be able to say "you're in my prayers" because I don't pray, and it seems like the worst thing to be hypocritical over. (I don't even like to say "god bless you" when someone sneezes, but that's another story.) So I stumble over "thoughts" and "hopes" and "wishes," and have to believe the recipient of my message knows that my concern is as heartfelt as a more religious person.

On the Skepticality website, where people are posting their own thoughts and hopes and wishes for Derek's speedy recovery, it doesn't feel uncomfortable to skip the "p" word. It's Skepticality, the home of rational, scientific, critical, and yes, skeptical discussion. But there's no question that every one of those posters cares deeply about Derek and his family.

Thoughts, hopes, wishes - to Derek and Swoopy and Susan and all of their loved ones.


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