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I Am a Natural for Cyberspace
by Varda Branfman

I am a natural for cyberspace. I have always felt drawn to places that exist on a psychic level but take up no actual space in terms of length and width. During my school years, I was known in my class as a daydreamer. I was habituated to removing myself from the action-spitballs and stern commands from the teachers-by staring out the window and escaping into my own world.

I completely understand the idea that you are where your thoughts are. I have seen it demonstrated thousands of times. And besides the worlds we reach with our thoughts and dreams, the Kabbalah teaches that there are countless worlds upon worlds.

The nature of the world of cyberspace came home to me as we were sitting with the graphic artist who is designing our website. We were there for several hours building and breaking down, choosing colors, laying out the copy, and working with the white space. When we took a break, she typed in on the homepage: "Site under construction. Please visit back soon."

I loved it. Many years ago, I was an active participant in building my own little house on the coast of Maine. I used to sew, and I am still a baker. I like to construct things, including cakes in the shape of houses. I like to see things slowly go up.

The building arts are a good metaphor for the writing process-the writer as builder. The writer laying the foundation of her piece. The writer putting together the walls separately on the ground and then hauling them up at right angles.

Through the process of writing and building, she finally realizes what the writing has come to tell her and where it has all led to. She puts on the roof . Now the whole thing is free-standing, and she can pull away the scaffolding, in case what got the writing going is extraneous to the finished piece. And she puts in the finishing touches-the doors, the window glass, the chimney.

Suddenly, the intimate connection between building and writing gets another spin as I experience building on the Web. I no longer need a tangible book or magazine to contain my writing and deliver it to my audience. Now I have an address where people can visit me. I have a home, starting with my homepage, and as many rooms as I would like to add on.

I have rooms for poems and rooms for essays. I even have a bookstore with shopping carts. And wherever I want to, I can put a link, a doorway to a friend's home for easy visiting.

In constructing a website, I am pitching my tent out in cyberspace as I build my more permanent dwelling. You can visit me there whenever you want. You can read my latest poem.

I have a friend whose mother visits her website daily to see what's new or just to be in the proximity of her daughter. I may also start visiting my website, even when I'm not engaged in building it, just to see how I'm doing up there.

My website has an address, www.carobspring.com. Appropriately, it carries material about exploring the inner life and suggestions on how to navigate on the underground river of the subconscious. My husband is a spiritual psychotherapist, and I'm a writer. Sometimes he does the writing, and I practice the psychotherapy. We are basically both active in the healing arts. It's all about getting closer to ourselves and to Hashem.

I imagine my site floating up there between Jerusalem and Columbus, Ohio. Why Columbus, Ohio? Because I have a link to another website which offers Jewish writing courses. I'm one of the instructors, and the first one to sign up for my course is a woman in Columbus, Ohio.

Her e-mail confirmation lists her address, which is fairly irrelevant to our relationship. But somehow, her being over there in Columbus and me being here is thrilling.

I see us horizontally floating towards each other like two Marc Chagall figures in the night sky, and meeting at a half-way point in our satellite classroom over the Atlantic Ocean. We overcame what might have been insurmountable obstacles to meet, before cyberspace was put on the map.

© Varda Branfman 2003


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