TITLE: From PDF Files to Sense of Loss AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: June 08, 2011 7:24 PM DESC: ----- BODY: After I wrote my previous post, I downloaded the PDF version of the June issue of Chess Life to check out its quality and readability. Lo and behold, the first letter to the editor said:
I would like to seek readers' help in solving my dilemma about Chess Life magazine. Since 1972 -- almost 40 years! -- I have saved every copy of Chess Life. I treasure these magazines, of course, and I want to keep the "streak" going until I pass away. However, I also recognize that mailing magazines is costly for USCF, and that it is much less "green" than reading Chess Life online. So, dear readers, what should I do? Keep the 40-year streak going despite the cost and environmental impact, or get with the times and read Chess Life online?
The motive force behind my dilemma is less base than wanting to maintain a streak, and yet more selfish than wanting to save the earth. Still, I chuckled at the unexpected conjunction served up by the universe. While writing that post, I read back over the much older post I linked to, Electronic Communities and Dancing Animals. It contains an extended passage that I reread and thought about for a while:
I know this beauty, and I'm sure you do. We are physical beings. The ability and desire to make and share ideas distinguish us from the rest of the world, but still we are dancing animals. There seems in us an innate need to do, not just think, to move and see and touch and smell and hear. Perhaps this innate trait is why I love to run. But I am also aware that some folks can't run, or for whatever reason cannot sense our physical world in the same way. Yet many who can't still try to go out and do. At my marathon last weekend, I saw men who had lost use of their legs -- or lost their legs altogether -- making their way over 26.2 tough miles in wheelchairs. The long uphill stretches at the beginning of the course made their success seem impossible, because every time they released their wheels to grab for the next pull forward they lost a little ground. Yet they persevered. These runners' desire to achieve in the face of challenge made my own difficulties seem small. I suspect that these runners' desire to complete the marathon had as much to do with a sense of loss as with their innate nature as physical beings. And I think that this accounts for Vonnegut's and others' sentiment about the insufficiency of electronic communities: a sense of loss as they watch the world around evolve quickly into something very different from the world in which they grew. Living in the physical world is clearly an important part of being human. But it seems to be neither necessary nor sufficient as a condition.
Another timely conjunction. I am heartened now by the stout spirit of the runners I saw in DC. I am also reminded anew of how small my own loss is when compared to theirs, and how much more noble its source. Fortunately, I seem to have reached a state of acceptance relatively quickly, enough so that I don't feel much envy or sadness when I see runners pass by my house on the bike trail that leads to many of my favorite routes. Still, at heart, I am a dancing animal. -----