|Filed under Musings;|
As I faced one of life's challenges, someone told me, "[I] am glad that you have some very good friends to help." Although it was a sincere sentiment, I was nonetheless amused at its obviousness: the comment came from an Apple II user — and "being an Apple II user" and "having very good friends" go hand-in-hand, making any challenge surmountable.
When Ryan Suenaga passed away … as strange as those words still are to type … the community grieved. Sentiments from his best friends to those who had met him only once were universal in their sympathy and support. One person who never had the pleasure of meeting my favorite Hawaiian even commented, "It's easy to see that he was a great person and meant a lot to everyone." Knowing how much Ryan meant to everyone accentuates his loss, but it also affirms the value of the life he led and his contributions to our community.
It's not just empathy that communities are valuable for; it's providing a critical mass with which to turn that emotion into action. It's how the @rsuenaga scholarship fund was established. And it's an attribute I took advantage of in my own recent challenge.
I lately found myself paralyzed at a crossroads, one that I knew would not impact my ability to participate in and enjoy the Apple II community, but one which nonetheless would significantly define my immediate future. I had to take action, but before I could, I did what anyone would do: I turned to friends. I called KansasFest attendees I'd never called before. I emailed Juiced.GS staff writers, asking if we could swap our professional relationship for a personal one, just long enough for me to get some advice. I identified people throughout the community whose previous challenges, sense of adventure, long friendships, or plain old geography would give them unique and applicable insights into my situation.
To a one, no Apple II user let me down. The support and feedback I got from each was more helpful than any of the three spreadsheets I compiled that outlined the variables, importance, and consequences of my decision. (What else would you expect a geek to do?) Every friend listened patiently to my blathering. Some listened; some asked questions; others gave answers. Some even offered to rearrange their lives to help me rearrange mine. All helped me choose a direction and start moving.
You'll say that this is just what friends do, and you're right: not everyone who helped me was an Apple II user or was even able to comprehend our fascination with this archaic machine. But for all the years a person can spend making friendships through school, work, dating, or sports, few friendships have proven as immediate or durable as those which come from being an Apple II user.
You guys are the best.