Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My 500

A few weeks ago, I took two-thirds of our children to the grocery store with me while CPod took the other third to the dentist.

As I wound my way past the bananas and peaches, the bread and peanut butter, I kept running into this very nice woman. We made small talk through the store, and then made our simultaneous departures.

A few days later, we took our kids out for hot dogs, and the grocery store lady was sitting in the booth across from ours with her cute teenage son. Also eating hot dogs. Our town is small, but it's not that small.

This made me remember one of my roommates in college. Everywhere we went in Provo, she knew someone. One night, we made her draw a map for us, a kind of Venn diagram with her in the center -- of all the people she was related to, and how they were connected to this person we'd met on campus, and how she dated this guy in high school, whose sister's best friend's uncle was once mission companions with . . . you get the picture. I was amazed at the connections, until I began to think about the people I know, have known, in my own life, and, really, it was no different.

Then I read Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys, which I loved. And I found this quote, near the end:

"It is a small world. You do not have to live in it particularly long to learn that for yourself. There is a theory that, in the whole world, there are only five hundred real people (the cast, as it were; all the rest of the people in the world, the theory suggests, are extras) and what is more, they all know each other. And it's true, or true as far as it goes. In reality the world is made of thousands upon thousands of groups of about five hundred people, all of whom will spend their lives bumping into each other, trying to avoid each other, and discovering each other in the same unlikely teashop in Vancouver. There is an unavoidability to this process. It's not even coincidence. It's just the way the world works, with no regard for individuals or for propriety."

I've been thinking about this for weeks now. And every time I go shopping and see the same person pushing her cart through the store who was there last time I was there, I take Neil Gaiman a little more seriously.

This happens in the blogging world, too. Have you noticed? It's a little easier to explain here, though. I mean, we leave much more visible footprints on the internet than we do in real life, and it's easy to find a blog you like, and then look at the ones that the author likes to find more that you like, and pretty soon, you're frequenting the same on-line joints and buying a round of virtual lemonades for the same group of people.

Are you one of my 500? I think you are. I think we all belong to this great, big group of amazing women (and the occasional man) who all hang out in the same blogspots. I think if we all got together in one room, we'd be amazed at the real-life overlaps: how interconnected we all are even though we are scattered across the world.

So. Thanks for being one of the 500 people I keep running into over and over again, for being connected to me in some inexorable way. Just maybe, if we're lucky, one of these days we'll end up "discovering each other in the same unlikely tea shop in Vancouver" and recognize that the virtual world bleeds through to reality with surprising regularity.


  1. well said and I totally agree.
    Glad to be one of your 500. It is a small world.

  2. Um, I'm not sure I count since the link between us is not even a little bit random and hugely legitimate.

    Love the post though. Very interesting food for thought. There is one particular blog that I like to frequent. I "get" her, if you know what I mean. So, the other day I went on a blog hunt, so to speak, to dig out some new blogs to read. I found several, I went to comment. And who should be commenting on EVERY single new blog that I decided I liked? The blogger that I "get." There she was, one step ahead of me, obviously liking all the same blogs.

    Funny how that works. :)

  3. I'm THRILLED to be in your 500! And to have you and your darling sister in mine!

    I think this is compounded by the fact that while the world is big, the church is small. So it's not hard to find connections with fellow Mo's.

    And I totally love Neil Gaiman. My favorite of his books was the one he wrote with Terry Pratchett called "Good Omens."

  4. I would love to go to Vancouver!

    I'm glad you are in my 500!

  5. Today I have run across your name or your sister's 3 times in comments on unrelated blogs. That is why I clicked over to read it. Funny that this would be the post I read. Small world indeed.

  6. Totally true theory, I've always felt all the people we know - we know for a reason - on that same way we are all connected.

    I did have a friend in High School who knew EVERYBODY and if she didn't she would find the connection between that person and someone she did know, funny!

  7. So glad we bumped into each other.

  8. Wow. Love this post. Came here from Melanie J and I might just have to stay around

  9. That book was already on my To Read list (I love Neil Gaiman) but it just got bumped up a few notches.

    Funnily enough, I'm vacationing in Vancouver right now and I'm thinking I need to find myself an unlikely tea shop somewhere around here...

  10. Such a fascinating theory...and I think I believe it, too. I have a lot of those types of stories.

    I don't know if I'm one of your 500, but I check in here and there and always love what I find here.

  11. 500 huh mmm that's quite a bubble! Nice read

  12. I'm not one of your 500 on here and meeting new people. This makes me want to make sure my 500 people are great people!

  13. I'm totally one of your 500 girl! I'll read whatever you write (although with a busy summer, it may take a week or two!)

  14. I love Neil Gaiman. He is bizarre, but very insightful.

    I love that idea of 500...and extras.

    I had a friend in California who swore his whole purpose in life was to be an extra in everybody else's sitcom. The nosy neighbor. The annoying sidekick. But never the star. That actually made me sad. I think everybody winds up in somebody's 500. And everybody gets a shot at stardom within that circle.

    I really enjoy your writing.

  15. Can I be a 500 too?

    This post, on so many levels, rings absolutely TRUE!



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