It's a bandwidth problem. That was the way my wife chose to describe it. My inclination was to argue the point, but my understanding of the situation and the comparison seemed accurate. "The range of frequencies within a given band, in particular that used for transmitting a signal." That was the first definition. The second was "the energy or mental capacity required to deal with a situation." I related more to the first, since I spend a good portion of my life explaining to children why they have to sit in front of their school laptop longer than the one they have at home waiting for Starfall.com to load. I had a hard time accepting the second definition as applied to me because I tend to see myself as endlessly open to input from any and all inputs, no matter what the frequency. Metaphorically speaking, that is. I'm listening.
Except when I'm not. There are a number of people and things that have fallen off my radar over the years, perhaps most profoundly because of the attention I am giving those things most proximal to my field of vision. When they say, "Out of sight, out of mind," they aren't necessarily talking about me, but it comes closest to the way I deal with those people and things. I am expressly grateful for email and long distance, since they allow me to reach out and give the appearance of touching someone just about the time they might have thought I had forgotten them completely. I am not good about getting out and around, visiting all those friends and family that I might once have signed up on my phone plan.
Most of the time I am busy holding together the life in front of me: Mother, brothers, son, wife, and a solid fistful of friends that I can trust to fuss at me if I forget to pay attention to them. And now I find myself at that time of the year when I send out Christmas cards. What do I say to those relatives that I have ignored for three hundred sixty four days prior? Life intrudes would be my excuse, but I know that I could do better if I tried. I like to satisfy that hurt part of my karma with the salve of quality over quantity, and then I hope that there aren't people I hold dear who are making the same choices about me.
And they are. I know that. Kids I knew in school. Teachers I have worked with. Friends who were there with me when things got weird. Friends who left or were left by me. They dropped off my bandwidth. At least that's the way I am currently explaining it. Except that it sounds a little cold and analytical. That's not how it feels inside. It feels sad. It feels empty. Babies have been born. Marriages have blossomed and faded. Kids have been born and grown. Parents have passed. People have gotten sick and most of them have gotten better. I hear about them when their Christmas cards make it to my mailbox. Or their email reaches my inbox. Or my wife tells me what she just read on her Facebook page.
Life goes on for all of us, and I apologize for having a limited number of frequencies which I am able to maintain. But there is something I remember from my youth: the way distant AM radio stations could be heard skipping through the cool night air on my transistor radio. If you're wondering where I am, listen late at night. I'll be thinking of you.