I got to the bar on West Seventh a bit early. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to swim the mile through the sticky air, so I made sure I had too much time. If nothing else, it was good to have some time to sit in the AC and imagine the sweaty stink drying off of me. This was a meeting with someone who I hadn’t seen in a while, someone who might do something really great for me. Some work was a possibility, but what I was hoping for more than anything was a little confirmation.
Rather than betray any confidence, I won’t mention my friend’s name. What’s important is that I had a chance to hear how someone responds directly to some of the things I’m thinking about, rather than type them out and wait for comments below. I enjoy writing about whatever crosses my mind, but it doesn’t take too long before it seems terribly arrogant. Who am I? Why do I write about these things? What’s this blog about, anyways? In a bar, between friends, I don’t have to explain any of that. It’s just some guy’s opinion.
We talked about local government and taxation and what’s gone horribly wrong here in Minnesota. I espoused my basic theory, which is that the left has found itself so firmly in the position of defending its past achievements that it has no energy to forge off into new territory and be “progressive” – in short, the left has become terribly conservative, and that doesn’t sit well with anyone. That went over pretty well, so I moved on to my solution to the problem, which is to re-think what every level of government is actually for and what it does best. That worked out, too.
My friend had some ideas of his own, especially since he heads up a local think tank that needs to be listened to one Hell of a lot more than it is. So we went back and forth, bouncing ideas and having a lot of fun. We even paused for a moment to find out if there was some place I could actually find a career in this sort of deep thinking that, as you all know, I do just for fun.
The internet has connected me to a lot of amazing people who inspire and call me to think outside of my own narrow ways of looking at things. I’ve met people I’d never meet in real life that I can’t be anything other than thankful and awed to have met. Yet, for all the wonder, there’s that something missing. The immediacy of any kind of social media is still a pale imitation of two friends with two liters of German beer on a hot sticky day.
Which is more important? Connecting to the world sure seems important, especially when something like the Iran situation flares up. But to connect with someone in a bar, bouncing ideas off of each other as we catch up on gossip, is how I connect with myself. I can throw out an idea I’ve been working on and see right away if it resonates. I get a little feedback that tells me I’m on to something – or not.
Both of these worlds, online and on tap, have their place. We tend to be fascinated by the online world because it has the gleam and smell of newness. That’s a pity at times because it surely isn’t all that we need as humans.