The Original Internet

No, I’m not talking about ARPAnet here. The original internet is … us. People, connected by social relationships, by affinities — and by mysterious invisible etheric links (if you believe in those, which I do).

The internet (the network of computers, servers, devices, apps, and so on that I’m using to post this blog and you’re using to read it) is an indispensable tool for me. I rarely go a day or even half a day without getting online.

As a self-appointed “sustainability educator,” I feel a lot of pressure to share every eco-related post, event, webinar, group, news article that comes into my social-media feed or email inbox. And there are SO MANY now. (It’s a good problem to have — far better than the alternative: few or no events, classes, etc. happening out there that can help us get on the same page and help Mother Nature repair ecosystems.)

Not only do I feel pressure to share every eco item; I also sometimes worry that I will miss something, or not find what I need, unless I am constantly plugged in to the internet.

The fear of failing to social-media-share something that needs to be shared, or the fear that I might miss something I need personally, can bring on an unpleasant inner state in me: clogged-up, harried, frenzied, frenetic, overwhelmed — are words that come to mind.

At such times, I have to step back and remind myself of what the real, original internet is. It is all of us, naturally and organically connected. What we call the internet, that electronic network of networks, is just one of our tools. A wonderful tool, but it is just one.

In my book, I include a quote from my friend and fellow author Chip Furlong. This is from his book Bohemian Road Trip: “I swear, the more I accept the miracle of universal consciousness, the more I see electronic connectivity as a kind of booby prize.”

Have you ever had a person just phone you out of the blue, or you bump into them on the street after years of no contact, and the timing was eerie? Or you magically stumble on a pamphlet for just the course you were wishing someone would teach? Original internet.

I have other examples which I’ll add to this post later.

Later: Here’s one example. Back in the late 1990s, when I was living in Austin, I went to a big sprawling outdoor party where, late in the evening, three exotically costumed young women did a dance performance with fire. It looked like they were swinging balls of fire on the ends of chains. And it turned out that’s exactly what they were doing.

Back then, the internet was nowhere near as pervasive as it is now. Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist; websites and email existed but were not a major thing. You didn’t assume anyone had an online presence. Search engines such as Yahoo existed, but not to the extent that I would have been able to run home and google “Austin fire dancers,” even if it had occurred to me to do so. (Google didn’t yet exist, by the way.)

But I just knew I had to find one of these women and learn fire dancing. The very next day, I was walking in a part of downtown Austin where I didn’t usually walk. And as I was enjoying a path through a quiet park, I practically ran into one of the firedancers!

Long story short, I told her I’d seen her perform, she said she’d teach me, and I ended up getting into fire performing. I did it for fun and even had paid gigs for awhile.

The interesting thing was, when I ran into that firedancer, seemingly randomly, in that park, I wasn’t in the least bit surprised deep down. Because that kind of thing happens.

Further Exploration:

Usually in this section I offer links I’ve searched and found for you. This time I’m going to switch things up, and invite you to google a couple of really cool terms. They are “quantum entanglement” and “spooky action at a distance.” (You might already be familiar with them or at least have heard these phrases.) Enjoy! Let me know what you find, and how it relates to your personal experience and observations.