Unkown Blogger Pursues a Deranged Quest for Normalcy

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Angel Second Class

Posted by ubpdqn on December 27, 2012

This time of year is filled with opportunities for reflection, for partaking in traditions. It has been a habit/tradition for me to watch Frank Capra‘s “It’s a Wonderful Life“.  George Bailey’s redemption has been a source of contemplation for me.

The image above is captured from the movie. It is Clarence’s entry to George Bailey  in “Tom Sawyer” at the films denouement.

This has been a stressful year and this period, though nominally joyous, has a capacity for aggravating internal torments (for me).  Friendsay there’s the rub.  In the era of  Facebook there is added murkiness to the meaning of “friend”. The graph of my social network is illustrated. It shows a number of clusters. It is somewhat typical and fits with averages for numbers, having some highly connected nodes (high degree nodes).

It does not reveal some sad consequences. In The Half-life of Facts, the author describes the importance of medium strength nodes in the dissemination of objects (information, errors, disease) in social networks. Further, the author notes that in general people have on average around 4 strong nodes. I have not elaborated on what “strength” means.

I have come to realize over the past year, how isolated a node I am within my internal representation of a social network. These networks are not static. Nodes (and edges) are added, nodes (and edges) are deleted. The edge weights/strengths increase and decrease. This past year has pared away my internal network to almost a trivial graph.  This has come no more clearly to me than in the past few weeks by the actions and inactions of people. It was put into fine focus today when two precious family members were in distress and medical need. But for the professionalism and high quality of care, I felt alone, I was alone… Thankfully, my family members have emerged distressed but only minimally battle scarred.

It is, perhaps, appropriate (or at least not unexpected) that the end of  Hamlet’s “to be or not be ” speech came to mind in relation to this contemplation of “friends”.

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;

 

I hope we all find a Clarence, an “AS2” (“Angel Second Class”), that helps even those of us without friends to negotiate the still wonderful adventure called life.

 

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