Scanning the dial

When I was younger, I would lie in bed with my Sony Walkman and scan the radio stations.

The tuner was phenomenal. Whether by nighttime resonance or a fluke in manufacturing, I was able to pick up radio stations from thousands of miles away, as if my Walkman had been equipped with a guerilla shortwave function. I would listen to Seattle Supersonics broadcasts. I would pick up Southern Baptist sermons from Tennessee. All from my room near downtown Sioux Falls.

As my fingers rolled the dial, I would find myself transported into someone else’s listening experience, like uncovering a letter someone had meant to mail but thought otherwise.

I found it to be phenomenal at the time. I was traveling, picking up rogue signals from a place I had never realized existed. I was eavesdropping on someone else’s community, tapping into their signal and making it my own.

It didn’t matter what they were talking about. Just that they were talking, just talking into the air, hoping someone would pick up their comments, hoping somehow they would make a difference. And that I was listening, from where I was, a million gallons of air separating us.

Now, when we camp, we tote along a short-wave radio. At night, we often scan the channels, staring into the fire and reaching out to the world. We hear radio from Japan, from China, from France. The world is condensed and brought together in our hands, so that after several beers we feel like world travelers, leaning back and listening, just as I did with my Walkman, to so many voices from so far away.

Sometimes I wonder if that’s what we’re doing in the blogosphere. Some sites have signals that are a little stronger, so they’re picked up by everyone. Others, like this humble little site, are tripped upon by people wandering through my section of the dial.

Sometimes I wonder if people just stop and listen, even for a little bit, because they too are traveling throughout a world full of messages, though this time the messages are a lot clearer. A lot easier to find. Just as muddled, but pointed all the same.

And I do the same thing I did then. I’ll roll my thumb over the dial. I’ll land on someone else’s blog, read their thoughts, move on. Sometimes I make it back. Sometimes I don’t. Either way, I feel like I did back then, in bed, searching the airwaves for a different voice, something I could sneak up next to and experience from a different angle.

As a stranger. And as a traveler.

This was lovingly handwritten on June 12th, 2008