“Six degrees of separation”

Six Degrees of Separation



I remember wandering through Port Authority in New York City and wondering why, out of the thousands of people there, there seemed to be no one I knew. I’ve been convinced since then that  there was someone, I just didn’t know how to go about finding them.

Last night I went to a concert of Gershwin music by six men in black, classical jazz musicians and, I would guess, almost my age. Incredible music. We all know it. It’s in our blood and maybe by now in our genes.

One of them, a trombone player, reminded me of a friend in Nevada. Nothing specific, something about the eyes and the shape of the face.  According to the program notes he’d played with innumerable New York musicians and I thought, it’s not just his face, I might know someone he knows. I’d just contacted someone on facebook after years and years and she was fine, aside from some disappointment that she’d never achieved stardom. I knew she’d sung all over the city, and run a jazz club many years before, the same place I’d celebrated a birthday and moving to Vermont  a quarter century ago. So, when I had an opportunity I asked him and, of course, he knew her, had known her many years ago, and played at her club. Who would have thought of  it on a lovely Vermont summer evening?

That happens often. Some of my best friends in Vermont lived a few miles from me in California, and even though we didn’t know each other then, we knew the same places, felt the same sunshine, drove through the same grapevines.

It’s as if there’s a web, not the intentional one we usually talk about, but one that’s been there for decades now, that links us to nearly everyone else, at most six people apart, and often several closer.


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