Friday, November 29, 2013

Reaching out from the darkness

I often wake up early - 4 a.m. early - so that I can get a head start on the day's research and writing. I don't plan this. I'd frankly much rather be tucked into my warm bed and don't much relish the prospect of leaving it hours before most sane people are awake.

But I'm apparently not sane, and my brain works in weird ways. If my eyes snap open well before dawn and my head is already spinning with ideas, I have to go.

Yesterday was one of those mornings, and I soon found myself trundling through the quiet, dark house. As I wandered through the kitchen, I peeked out of the frost-covered windows at a landscape painted in thick powdered snow before heading downstairs to my office (note to self: how did we live before smartphone flashlight apps?) Before long, I was sinking into my office chair and powering on my laptop, external display and iPad.  I settled my fingers on the keyboard and kind of let them sit there for a minute - it's a writer's ritual thing - then got down to the business of filling a blank screen with prose that complete strangers would hopefully understand.

I churned through my first assignment, and by the time the sky slowly started to turn from black to deep blue, the first article of the day was done and I was well into my next piece. I heard stirring from above: time to drive our daughter to choir. As I headed upstairs and we pulled on our coats and woolies to prepare for the inevitable cold, we talked about how much we liked winter. how despite the cold it was still a neat thing to experience first thing in the morning, that crisp feeling you get when you first open the door and stick your head out.

Somehow, she inspired me. So when I returned home from dropping her off and headed back to my office, I found myself pulling up Twitter and staring at the blank Compose box. This is another early morning ritual of mine, a quick reach-out to the world to see who's up, to connect with other like-minded earlybirds or, further afield, with friends who live on the other side of the planet and who may be approaching the end of their own day. Less than 140 characters can have quite an impact if you string them together just the right way. This was what flowed through my fingers yesterday morning:

I closed Twitter down and got back to work. The rest of the day turned into the usual whirlwind of writing, interviewing and kid-shuttling. I picked little man up from school and got to spend a bit more one-on-one time with our daughter at the mall. In other words, a typical day in our decidedly atypical family. Just the way I like it.

So imagine how pleased I was when Dan Brown pinged me later that evening with news he had chosen this very tweet for the Tweet of the Day on page 2 of today's London Free Press.

Like the drive time with our son or the walking-around-the-mall time with our daughter, this wasn't a for-the-ages, life-changing moment. Rather, it was a small moment, a spontaneous happy thrown into the mix. But a moment all the same, and a much appreciated one given the kind of day his newsroom was having. 

See, longtime reporter Steve Coad, Dan's colleague and mentor at the paper, passed away suddenly (tribute here, obituary here.) As he and his newsroom family absorbed the unimaginable loss of someone who so deeply understood how precious the concept of community was, he continued to do his job, and continued to find ways to apply the lessons he had learned so well from Steve.

In the end, even the smallest gestures have major implications. And that tiny moment of kindness you share with someone when you hold the door for them in a store,  help them get into an elevator, or take a moment to shape their copy before it goes live, can make all the difference in the world.

I had no idea a tweet spontaneously tapped out in the pre-dawn murk would go on to have such significance by the time the sun completed its journey across the sky.


lissa said...

Wow, Carmi. Sometimes your writing is articulately informative, sometimes you are inspirationally eloquent, sometimes you just wax poetic. All of those are in this post (you inspire me!).

First, my condolences to Dan on the loss of his friend. Heartfelt sympathies.

Second, you nailed it - with Twitter (all social media, really, but Twitter is thought snippets), it's like being on radio; we don't know who's listening, who will take just one thing we say and make that their raison d'ĂȘtre for the moment, or day, or occasion. And sometimes, our thoughts just resonate with one person and that's enough to validate our every moment spent on social media.

Thank you for sharing this - you paint images with words that last long after the reading has stopped for the moment.

Alexia said...

This is a very thought-provoking post, Carmi - your writing elicits responses in so many areas. Thank you.

Alexia said...
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Kavi said...

I begin my day early as well. The whirlwind that every day holds is often defined by how the morning starts!

And then different things happen during the day. All adding upto the intrigue the world offers