To have a support network you have to be able to communicate. The people with the best support networks are the people best able to communicate. The people most in need of support networks are the people least able to communicate. Does that make sense? Is it logical? Are there people who would disagree with me? Probably.
My father and I have discussed this need for a support network often. We both believe it does not particularly matter where the network comes from. My father still goes to church. It is a support network. The people who go - and they are mostly his age - are part of his support network. He has a smaller, stronger support network within that and another small network of close friends. The networks have grown smaller as he has grown older. I think that happens to everyone. My father no longer drives a car. He does not go to night meetings at the Wood Group, the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the Soil Association, the Phonograph Society or the Electronic Organ Club. None of these things would interest me but he enjoyed the companionship here. Does he need less companionship now? Probably not. Is it too much effort to find it? Yes. He disliked Probus. It was a group for old men. My father still likes being with children. He has never quite grown up. It is what made him, and still makes him, a good teacher.
Communication is a two way process. It is always a two way process. You can talk as much as you like but, unless someone is listening, you have not communicated. Listening means understanding. You can hear words but to listen is to communicate as much as it is to speak.
I was fourteen when I met the profoundly deaf girl on the bus, a girl my own age who had immense difficulties in communicating. We travelled together, each Friday and Sunday afternoon, to and from our respective boarding schools in the city. She taught me the manual alphabet and my first basic signs. We could 'talk' just a little but she also taught me much more than that. I already wanted to write, was trying to write. She taught me there were other ways of saying things. It was a big lesson for a fourteen year old. It is not just the profoundly deaf who have severe communication impairments.
Nicola Morgan has been talking about networking, networking for writers. It is part of the writing process. Both things are part of the communication process. Communication is about making connections. It is our capacity to make complex connections that make us human.
I wish I could always make those complex connections.