Is anyone out there?
As a child growing up in the 1960s, I went to sleep many nights and woke up many mornings to the tap-tap-tap of Morse code. My dad was an amateur radio enthusiast and was constantly meeting and building friendships with people around the world—and at the time, that world seemed to me to be an enormous one.
I can see him now, tapping away on his paddle and transmitting signals around the world in an attempt to make friends with almost anyone tens of thousands of miles away. If ever Dad heard the signal for "Is anyone out there?" he would run downstairs to his office and start tapping away, reaching out to whomever was asking to verify that he was listening.
Through his ham radio and Morse code hobby, Dad made friends in places near and far, and discovered that deep inside we are all the same. And he celebrated this understanding, from time to time, just when the atmosphere and his little ham radio antenna in the side yard were in sync.
When I was in grade school, he won an amateur radio competition. His prize: a family vacation to the 1967 World’s Fair in Montreal, known as Expo 67. At age 10, my first visit abroad. Technically, crossing an imaginary line on a land mass doesn’t qualify as “abroad”, but I was only 10, and I’ve never been into technicalities. And, since we drove, it certainly seemed abroad to me. It was the first time I’d ever experienced a culture and people outside of my small southern hometown. It was the first time I’d ever heard other languages spoken within earshot and the first time I’d ever made friends who didn’t live within just a few miles of my home.
Today, I’m continuing to make friends and build business relationships around North America and overseas, but I’m sitting in my office and in my home. But now, the tap-tap-tapping isn't Dad spelling out messages on his paddle, its me typing on my laptop keyboard. Thanks to modern technology, its easy to meet like-minded people from around the planet with whom I can work and share experiences and knowledge about sustainability and design. I’m enjoying learning about their unique vantage points in the world and their ideas and passions.
In the short six weeks that I’ve been toying with this new paradigm, I've had the absolute pleasure to have begun business relationships and friendships with amazing people in Johannesburg, Lima, Seoul, Okanawa, New York, Murphreesboro, San Antonio, Mumbai, Flagstaff, San Francisco and more.
Fifty years after I fell asleep with Morse code bouncing around my head, I am following my father’s path. Although he encouraged my brother and me to learn Morse code, we didn't really get into it like he did. But I’m finally realizing that the lesson was never lost on me. Today’s technology allows us to so effortlessly do the same thing, but with pinpoint accuracy, incredible speed, and the added bonus of visual imagery.
The question is no longer, "Is anyone out there?” The questions are: In what country do you want a friend? In what city? With what interests? For me, its international issues, southern culture, philanthropy, human rights, environmental concerns, architecture and design, and sustainable, healthy living. With the help of social media, the introduction between me and an architect who loves to write, an attorney who lives green, or a journalist who designs furniture for fun, is almost instantaneously.
As a way of celebrating these folks and sharing their ideas and thoughts with you, I’ve invited my new friends to have voices on my LOGblog and RobinWadeFurniture.com and you will be hearing from them on a regular basis. And somehow, one friendship and blog post at a time, these new friends from around the country and the globe might just be helping make this big, sometimes scary and dangerous world a smaller, more friendly place. I hope you enjoy the words and images they share with us.