And to discover the bigger world around me.
We moved from a big city, Los Angeles, where neighbors hardly saw or spoke to each other, to a small hamlet on the Oregon Coast where neighbors know each other, where walks on the beach means meeting tourists as well as locals; where a stop at the post office to pick up mail is an opportunity to catch up with the town's gossip wheel.
Somehow, though I don't receive mail anymore from friends or relatives (excluding special occasions) I marvel at how much I know about them through the social media outlets we subscribe to. Facebook lets me keep in touch almost instantaneously, drop a congratulatory note or ramble about my hobby horse without interruptions, and at the end of the day, when I see that a friend from work I have not seen for decades likes my post, I feel re-connected to my old self.
What is even more remarkable is the connection across time and space that none of us would have predicted. Recently, I met a young student from England, researching her grandfather's life. She saw a name on my Memoir blog she recognized from a signature on a portrait her grandfather had left for her painted in India during WWII.
She emailed me, wanting to know if that artist was the relative I had talked about in my memoir.
Serious research may have to go different routes; more scholarly routes are available through university and government institutions. But common folks with common curiosity can certainly feed such curiosity with just a click away.
We can live anywhere in world; purchase goods from anywhere in the world; work in the privacy of our living space; and on a day when we want to talk/skype or connect in real time with a loved one we can phone, text, leave messages here and there and in no time we are back together.
It sure beats sending a note in a bottle, or mailing a flimsy air-mail letter that might take months to get across the ocean.