A dragon sits on my desk, a powerful Chinese dragon, silently watching all day, as I work. Next to him, Buddha also serenely looks on, enigmatic, offering no answers, just a reassuring presence in a sea of often frenetic activity. These two figures replaced a jade Laughing Buddha who had been my companion for many years. His twinkling eyes and huge belly sat atop my computer for a long time, every so often I'd reach out and touch his happy belly with my finger, stroking the cool jade for connection, for reassurance or for so. My friend TL used to come up and hang out with him from time to time, we both were swimming against the flotsam and jetsam and Buddha was a shared comfort. His happy energy always kept us going, pulled us through every sticky situation.
When TL decided to move on, I was hugely happy for her, it was a good move, but I knew I was going to miss her terribly. Who would I have to call and profess, a Skittles run....peanut M&M's or a quick cup of tea for her and coffee for me. These were the things that made life under the gun bearable. As part of a parting gift, I gave her Buddha, so that she would have a little bit of me in her new place, and so that she wouldn't be alone. But that meant Buddha was gone, and for a while, there was nothing.
The dragon came later and the Buddha head later still. And now they are the watchmen of my space. But it turns out that they are not the only ones. In the last few weeks, several other Guardians have appeared. Out of the woodwork, almost. One morning, while updating the blog, I came across a comment from Gabriela in Lima. Each day, another upbeat positive comment. It could not have come at a better time. "Louise" aka my riding pardner Charms was still off on her mission, and I was feeling particularly alone, besieged by the vicissitudes, my gypsy soul stifled and not enough coffee in the world to make it feel better.
Gabriela reaching out across the miles reminded me of the days when I had pen pals. Girls and boys whom I only knew only from the pictures enclosed in the letters that I avidly read. Letters that gave me insight to lives hundreds of miles away. Some, outpourings of thoughts, or activities. These letters a result of the Big Blue Marble and other organisations devoted to fostering global friendships via the magic of mail. Today, I communicate with hundreds of people across the Globe for one reason or other, the immediacy with which you can connect is astonishing given that it used to be a month to six weeks before the pen pals were in contact. I read those letters over and over again, and years later, meeting one of the girls that I used to write to, she confessed the same. I honed my writing and story telling skills in those letters and made some friends; Doris and I wrote to each other through primary and high school and even through university and a couple of years beyond that. We only eventually lost touch after my mother died. Now I have comments on my blog.
A chance call from 'Blue to check up on me and an e-mail from 'Scene about something or other that I'd written in the last few weeks, these contacts all making me smile. As much as I like reading other people's blogs, my boss would probably be horrified at the thought that I spend at least an hour a day, stretched out over the day mind you, reading blogs; it fills some of the space left by Buddha. Because, you see, reading all of you, has become kind of like rubbing Buddha's belly. You're my little touchstone against the craziness of my own day. So whether it is busting my sides with Angry African, believe me buddy, I'm still not sending you my braai pictures; or shaking my head at the idiocies that Scene highlights'; translating Gabriela's spanish or following Blue's pets, you are all so very real. In the last week the Coffeedude has made me understand that I MUST get my coffee shop going. Just so he and I can sit around and trade books and be literary and coffee snobs together. Annie, remember to bring the Blue Mountain when you're coming, can't give you any old thing right.
As you can see, still busily rubbing away.